Heli Pad Review Series: Hubsan H107L Quadcopter - RC Groups
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Jul 20, 2013, 02:27 AM
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Mini-Review

Heli Pad Review Series: Hubsan H107L Quadcopter


Thank you for reading my review of the Hubsan H107L Quadcopter. You would notice that a couple of H107L threads already exist, so why another one? I went through the same debate and have some doubts myself. But at the end of the day, I have decided to give it another thorough review and share some additional info here. I sincerely hope that the other reviewers do not view this as a competition, but something to complement their efforts. After reading this review, feel free to comment and discuss here, or keep the discussions in the original H107L review thread. My hope is that this will become an additional resource for the folks out there.

Quote:
Post #1 (this post) is my general review for the Hubsan H107L.
Post #2 is a list of replacement parts and optional accessories.
Post #3 is a list of Frequently Asked Questions.
Post #4 is reserved for Mods.
Post #5 is reserved for Trouble Shooting.


Hubsan H107L Quadcopter Review

Some of you are already acquainted with the Hubsan X4 Quadcopter. My relationship with the original X4 is a love-hate relationship. I love the looks of the X4, but I hate the weak construction of it. I love the agility of it, but I hate the instability of it (during flips). I love the inexpensive components, but I hate the amount of work requires to fix something. I love the compact size of it, but I hate not being able to see it, especially at night. For those mixed reasons, some people love it to pieces and adore it. Others hate it with a passion. I’m neither. I’m just honest about it. I love it, and I hate it.

Here’s a typical X4 session. You look at adorable X4 and decide to take it out for a spin. While you are loving the speed of it, you push it, and it accidentally flips on you. The flip is wild and you couldn’t make a graceful recovery. You have a mild crash and you break one of the brittle arms. Worse, it landed upside down and the prop caused the motor cap to come off. Unlike the other quads you have, you can’t take out a broken CF arm and unplug the motor; you have to replace the entire X4 shell. While it only sets you back $5, you find that you cannot leave the motors attached to the FC. You have to unsolder everything, replace the entire shell, and re-solder everything. Every little repair means rebuilding the entire X4 all over again! Does that sound familiar to you X4 owners?



Some of these gripes must have made it to Hubsan’s ears and they do realize that they need to fix something. Then came version 2 of the X4, which they now called H107L. At first glance, the H107L looks almost identical to the original X4, but when you look closer, there are subtle differences.

The Lights



Hubsan realizes that those two tiny little blue lights in the eyes are not illuminating the X4 enough to fly in dim conditions. The first improvement calls for added LED lights. A pair of blue LEDs shines up the front white props, and a pair of white LEDs shines the rear black props. That helps a lot and allows the H107L some night flying.
• The blue LEDs flash back and forth after the Lipo battery is first plugged in. They glow solid when binding is complete.
• When all LEDs begin to flash, they indicate a low battery warning.
• The LEDs can be turned on/off by pressing and holding the Throttle Trim/Down button for a second.
• The blue LEDs also flash momentarily during the resetting of the accelerometer.

The Props



Many people experienced motor damages with the X4 and resort to making their own prop guards out of straws and similar material. Hubsan finally realizes that they need to make new props with built-in prop guard for the H107L. That’s great.

The Rubber Feet



One of the things I hate about the original X4 is the bottoms of the motor mount. The brittle feet, or the lack of feet, are completely exposed. You could see the motor cap and worse, the wires, exposed out there. One moderate crash and it is all over. People have tried all kinds of mods, from adding landing skids, to stuffing ear plugs underneath the motors. None of these were as effective or streamline looking as the new and improved Rubber Feet. Hubsan calls them Soft Pads, except they are anything but soft. They feel like the rubber eraser at the end of a pencil. They are pretty hard and not exactly shock absorbers. But they provide very good non-slipping grip, and more importantly, they provide a replaceable buffer between the motor/wires and the landing surface.

The Transmitter



The H107L Tx looks almost identical to the original X4 Tx. In fact, I have a hard time telling them apart from each other at first. In some pre-production photos, the new H107L Tx does not have an antenna. It was replaced with a stub. But the sample I received has the same exact fold-away fake antenna. The antenna was not functional. It’s just there for looks. But I finally found a way to easily tell the two Tx apart. The original X4 Tx has just a simple Red LED in the middle. But the new H107L has a dual color LED that alternates between Red and Green in Expert Mode. The new Tx has the same number of buttons as the old one. Therefore, the Hubsan engineers have to find creative ways to double up the functions. Therefore, it is crucial for you to understand the difference between clicking a button versus press and hold a button, because they often mean two different functions. It is very confusing at first, but you get used to it.

The Expert Mode

Like the original X4, the new H107L has two flight modes, Beginner and Expert modes. In other words, the H107L has Dual Rates, a Low and a High. By default, each time you turn on the Tx, you are in the Beginner mode. To switch it to the Expert Mode then, you press the Right cyclic stick in your Tx straight down into the Tx until it clicks, then you let go. Do not keep pressing or you will enter the Tx Setup (SE) mode. Two beeps and the word Expert shows up on the LCD display confirm that you are in the Expert Mode. To toggle back, repeat the same procedure. One beep and the word Expert disappears from the LCD confirm that you are back in the Beginner mode. Basically in the Beginner Mode, the throw limit is halved. The H107L communicates it throw limits in percentages. 50% is the middle, 0% is one extreme and 100% is the other extreme. In Expert Mode, you get the 0-100% full throw. In Beginner Mode, the throw is limited to between 25-75%. In other words, half the full limits.

The Sensitivity Controls

In addition to Dual Rates, the H107L also offers some Sensitivity (Expo) controls. The curve is not as customizable as in the case of a programmable radio, but it does offer some degree of Expo rates. Again, the H107L communicates the Expo rates as a percentage, with 100% being the highest sensitivity. The adjustable range for Beginner Mode is 20-60%, and for the Expert Mode is 60-100%. The default setting is 50% and 90%, respectively. To change the Expo rates, first, you enter the Tx setup (SE) mode, by depressing the Right cyclic stick, like to switch to Expert Mode, except you press and hold for 1 second. The LCD display will show SE to confirm that it is in the setup mode. Then Click on the trim buttons (up/down) to dial in the sensitivity desired. Again, only use short clicks on these trim buttons. Do not press and hold them down, because if you do so, you would have triggered the channel reverse modes and you would wonder why the H107L is flying in the opposite directions? When you are done with the adjustments, exit the Setup mode by pressing and holding the Right cyclic stick for another second.

The Anti-Flip Mode



Like the original X4, the new H107L will only flip in the Expert Mode. But unlike the X4, the H107L has an anti-flip mode, that allows you to fly at full 100% rate and won’t accidentally flip the Quad. Let’s face it, flipping is not Hubsan’s strong suit. Its flips are wild, great altitude loss, and hard to recover. When you push the X4 in expert mode, you could flip the quad when you don’t mean to, and result in a bad crash. The H107L anti-flip mode prevents this unfortunate scenario, and allows you to push the Quad to its max. Now, you’d think that the manual would discuss the great feature right? Wrong. The user manual makes no mention of it whatsoever! But this is how to work it. First, you put the H107L in Expert mode. Otherwise, Anti-flip has no context. Then you press the Left throttle stick down until it clicks and release, much like what you do with the right stick to switch between Beginner and Expert Modes. The Tx beeps once in Anti-Flip Mode and twice in Flip Mode.

The Gyro Initialization and Accelerometer Reset



With accelerometers, gyro initialization is very simple. Unlike those Quads with no accelerometers, you don’t have to worry about initializing the gyro on a flat surface. I have tested it by intentionally initializing the H107L on a slanted surface. Yet, it flew just level. However, I found that the gyro could get confused coming out of a flip. In that case, you would have to reinitialize. Also, it is a good idea to reset the accelerometers one in a while, especially when it first comes out of the box. The procedure is as follows. Make sure the H107L is on and bound to the Tx. Make sure the aileron and elevator trims are neutral (50%). Pull the Left control stick to the Lower Right corner. While holding it in that corner, move the Right control stick left and right a couple of times until the front LEDs of the H107L begin to blink. This procedure resets the accelerometers. If the H107L consistently drifts to one corner, the manual suggests that you shims under the motor in which direction the Quad drifts to and reset the accelerometer that way. I haven’t tried that to see how effective that is.

The New Hi-Tech Composite Plastic Shell



One of my biggest gripes about the original X4 is the brittle plastic shell. The cost of the replacement shell is not an issue. But the effort to replace the shell is the issue. Hubsan made it very difficult to replace. So, Hubsan promises to fix this problem by introducing the new plastic shell. Yes, I have seen the video of the H107L surviving high altitude drop. However, I have also read reports of people breaking the new shell from far less impact. I don’t have enough mileage on this new shell to offer a report. But I can’t ignore either view. All I could say at this point is that the new plastic is shiny. I won’t be surprised that it is somewhat stronger. But I don’t think that it is indestructible. More importantly, in the event that an arm or two breaks, it is even more difficult to replace the shell than before. The key issue is that you must disconnect and reconnect the motors to replace the shell. But there is no plug. Now, you have to deal with the additional lights. So, Hubsan fixes nothing in that department.

The Weight / The Flip / The Ugly



The net weight (without battery) of the H107 is 28.14g, which is 11% heavier than the original X4 (25.4g). Even so, the H107L is still pretty agile in flight. Agility has never been an issue for me. In fact, it is what I like about the X4. But the X4, as well as the H107L are the worse flippers in their class. They lose lots of altitude from their flips. Their gyro is confused after the flip. Sometimes they end their flips in a weird wobble and go out of control. When the gyro is confused, there is no recovery from it. It will end in an ugly crash.

Conclusion



In summary, the new H107L is definitely a step up from the X4. It is a nice Quad and it has so much potential. But there are still some very major flaws. So, looking forward to seeing version 3? Hubsan has good innovations, good design, but their execution is not perfect. As a company, the way they treat their customers and their retailers is probably one of the worst in the industry. I sure hope that they will continue to listen and continue to improve.

The H107L Fixes:
• Low light visibility with LED lights
• Motor damages with built-in prop guards
• Accidental flips with anti-flip lockout mode
• The weak landing with rubber bumpers
• The short range by possibly boosted the signal (did not test)
• The brittle body by possibly using stronger plastic (did not test)

The H107L Flaws:
• Heavy weight in the feather weight class
• No easy way to replace the uni-body when it breaks
• Wobbly flips that are difficult to recover from

Buying Information:
The H107L is available from various vendors throughout China and Europe. Mine came from Banggood.com, and I believe that their pricing on the H107L is currently the lowest.

Heli Pad

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Last edited by Heli Pad; Jul 20, 2013 at 09:53 AM.
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Jul 20, 2013, 02:28 AM
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Jul 20, 2013, 02:29 AM
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Walkera Devo 7e Transmitter DeviationX FlySky/Hubsan Mod
Last edited by Heli Pad; Jul 20, 2013 at 03:38 AM.
Jul 20, 2013, 02:30 AM
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Jul 20, 2013, 06:04 AM
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sbstnp's Avatar
Can only say: very grim review.
Jul 20, 2013, 08:00 AM
semper mitis
gentle ben's Avatar
Good review.
Jul 20, 2013, 08:19 AM
Quad guys are 4x the fun :)
BD Murdock's Avatar
Nice review Heli Pad...very informative. I'd really like to try out the quad but the difficulty you site in the re-build process is a deal breaker. I know plug & play booms and motors requires more of everything, especially space, but I'm so accustomed to simply unplugging an assembly and plugging in its replacement or even replacing just the motor that the idea of desoldering and resoldering and maybe even adding a new body shell just seems to be a step backwards.
I've gotten to the skill level that catastrophic crashes just don't happen anymore, or very rarely at most so downtime isn't an issue. The idea of that much work to get back into the air makes me very hesitant.
Last edited by BD Murdock; Jul 20, 2013 at 08:28 AM.
Jul 20, 2013, 09:34 AM
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handy2's Avatar
Making it so hard to replace the shell will keep me from buying one. Still trying to fix my first one.
Jul 20, 2013, 10:26 AM
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Good morning, and thank you for the early feedback. In typical Heli Pad review fashion, I'm trying to be fair and give you the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, telling it as it is. The hope is that you could make an informed decision at the end.

Given the number of improvements, the H107L is definitely a step up from the X4. But it left a coupon of huge flaws unresolved. It's a good Quad if you know of its potential downfalls. For those reasons, I think an experienced pilot would love it, but I'm not sure if I would recommend it to a beginner. It's fast; it's heavy; and it crashes with a gusto.

A very good alternative to the H107L is the Blade Nano Qx. It's more expensive ($70 BNF, $90 RTF). It is about half the weight of the H107L. Because it has half the mass, the crashes are much more "gentle", if you would. Unlike the H107L, the uni-body shell has very flexible arms which are not easy to break. The stability in SAFE technology is unmatched. The Agility mode is very responsive. Therefore, it is a great Quad for both beginners and experts. It flies fine in the outdoor, but with less mass, it doesn't cut through wind as easily as the H107L. Nonetheless, it is a great alternative.
Jul 20, 2013, 11:05 AM
Eye to the sky!
jason4207's Avatar
I don't think the X4 has any Expo control. The only thing you can change is the throw. 60 in Easy mode is the same as 60 in Expert mode.

Also, I find that to pull off clean flips you have to massage the sticks well. I was doing them in my living room last night, and I only have 8ft ceilings. Kept it in a tight little area as well. I mess up sometimes...often and can feel myself doing that. Sometimes the X4 does act a little funny, though.

Nano QX can't cut through the wind like the X4 can, but the board on the nQX is a nice thing to have.
Jul 20, 2013, 11:58 AM
Cranky old fart
Balr14's Avatar
Very well done, HP! It's nice to see they have made some improvements. But, I have to say after the issues I had with the first version, there's no way in hell Hubsan will ever get another nickle from me. It has to be the poorest quality RC aircraft I have purchased in years. To top it off, compared to the Nano Qx, the X4 handling is crude and sloppy.
Last edited by Balr14; Jul 20, 2013 at 02:31 PM.
Jul 20, 2013, 02:31 PM
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Heli Pad's Avatar
Thanks, Jason. In the manual, section 4.4, the Sensitivity setup is discussed. I haven't spent too much time playing with it, just noting that it is there. From the description of those settings, the closest thing that I could think of is Expo. Am I wrong? Anyway, I'll be mainly flying mine with the Devo 7E, and I have all the Expo adjustment I want from it.

Balr14, I know how you feel about the original X4, breaking 3 motors in 10 minutes. Yes, I remember. So yes, while some people love the Hubsan X4, I can't ignore some of its flaws and I'm trying to state the truths clearly. It's not in the same league as the nQx, but it is substantially lower cost.

"You get what you pay for"
Jul 22, 2013, 02:41 AM
The flightless bird
jameschen072's Avatar
Nicely written my friend, I'll add a link to your review so people could see another FAIR and UNBIASED viewpoint.
Latest blog entry: The Fei-Lun FT011 Review
Jul 22, 2013, 06:42 AM
Tri-Quad-Hexa-Octo-copters!!
Hi H,
Good write up. I see that this your first micro quad review? Everyone is certainly entitled to write their "personally fair and unbiased" review with their own observations and opinions. Doing that will help others make informed purchases and get the best experience out of their multicopter.

You are absolutely correct that it can be a challenge to fix a broken X4 and this is important information. I know many Gents do not like to solder, but if one eventually hopes to transition to larger multicopters after learning on these inexpensive micro and mini multicopters, it is an important skill to develop and have. Adding connectors would only add more weight, the enemy of micro quads

While breaking any toy is unfortunate, I find that the X4 does not break on its own. If someone is new to RC and multicopters, does not take time to read the instructions and do some additional study of lessons learned from others who generously post them before they fly in too small a room crashing into walls and chairs or outside over non-recommended concrete or asphalt, then the outcome is always predictably bad. There is plenty of good guidance on how to take it slow, start in an open area with plenty of clear space, fly it over soft grass, keep it in view and learn how to properly control it in these threads. Good advice for any micro or mini multicopter you may choose to learn to fly.

FYI: The anti-flip is mentioned in section 6 in the version of the manual I have:
"In Expert Mode, the X4 can fly at high speeds and do flips. if you don’t
need it to flip, you can select anti-flip mode. Press the throttle stick to
select or deselect anti-flip. ON=one Tx beep=it can’t flip.
OFF=two Tx beeps=It can do flips. Note that when the X4 runs out of
lipo power, it also can’t flip."

While the flips do seem to be a little less tight than the V1, likely due to the ~3.5g of extra weight, with a little more throttle at the beginning of the flip and pulling off the throttle at when inverted, then adding it back gets you some nice flips. The added benefit of that is you then learn the proper way to do manual flips instead of fully relying on the button/stick activated auto-flips. So it is also a good skill developer.

Mine came with "Important Instructions" that said to first calibrate the accelerometers before flight. We all learned from experience that this was necessary with the V1 after the accelerometer calibration capability was discovered soon after its initial release.

There no doubt have been thousands of "X4's" under various names sold since they first appeared around September 2012. They might be a challenge to fix when necessary for some Gents, but with plenty of available parts and a cheapo 40 watt pencil soldering iron, solder and flux (please for safety do monitor and teach your sub 16 year old how to use one ), it is a learning 10 minute doable project and they are certainly fun to fly

I personally like the performance increase when either the Hubsan FPV Tx or when the Walkera DEVO with Deviation and A7105 transceiver modded Tx is used due to the higher stick resolution and the ability of the user to fine-tune rate, trim(by setting the trim steps to "1") and expo.

Another pro flight performance hold-over from the X4V1 is the way it can easily handle flying in wind.

--Improving Hubsan X4 flight performance 101
--Micro quads comparisons 101

Thanks again fpr taking the time to post your review.
Cheers,
Jim
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