JJRC H20 Nano Hexacopter from Gearbest.com

If a multirotor with six motors sounds intimidating, don't worry. This little guy fits in the palm of one's hand.

Splash

Introduction

JJRC H20 Nano Hexacopter

Dimensions (LxWxH):4.1 x 4 x 1" (10.5x 10 x 2.5cm)
Transmitter:Proprietary four-channel 2.4GHz spread spectrum with digital trims
Receiver:Proprietary receiver/ESC combination with six-axis gyro
Battery as Tested:150mAh 3.7V 20C lithium polymer with reverse polarity JST 1.25mm micro connector
Motors:Six 6 x 12mm brushed coreless
Typical Flight Duration:5 minutes
Operator Skill Level/Age:Beginner; 14+
Available From:Gearbest.com
Price (USD):$18.99 with free shipping

2015 may well be remembered in hobby circles as the "Year of the Nano."

It's seen the introduction of some truly incredible nano-sized multirotors, ones which didn't stop at the traditional four-motored "X" configuration. The current paradigm seems to indicate that if four motors are good, six must be better.

With that in mind, I'm pleased to introduce the latest entry into the brand new nano hexacopter field, the JJRC H20 from the folks at Gearbest.com. It's an amazing technological accomplishment which, with everything needed to fly, sells for $18.99.

With free shipping.

Mine arrived in a little more than a week via DHL once the order was processed at Gearbest.

Replacement parts also get the free shipping treatment. At the time of this writing, motors and props are available, but unfortunately, the battery is not, at least not through Gearbest. A quick online search turned up several parts sources and I trust that Gearbest will follow suit soon. This is a new model which, in typical fashion for affordably priced machines like this one, was released before its replacement parts.

There's little to do to get the H20 in the air, so here we go!

Contents

The H20 is complete and ready to fly with the following:

  • Fully assembled model
  • Four-channel 2.4GHz transmitter with digital trims
  • 150mAh 3.7V 20C lithium polymer battery
  • USB charger
  • Spare propellers
  • Philips screwdriver
  • Instruction sheet in English and Chinese

Needed to complete the model:

  • Two AA-cell alkaline batteries for the transmitter

Given the size of the package I received from DHL, it's no wonder the shipping is free. The envelope was probably the smallest I've ever received which housed an entire model aircraft and its accessories.

Gearbest's shipping department packed the H20 in another box before putting it in the envelope. While the box was nice and tough and the H20 surrounded by bubble wrap, the packing could have been neater. In any case, this is what emerged from both envelope and box:

The thick cardboard display box emerged in perfect condition and it looked great. Inside were the model, the accessories and the instruction sheet neatly packed in clear plastic trays.

The model is available in both red and gold; I got the gold version which I linked to on the specification sheet above. The red version may be found here.

Either way, this is a neat looking little model, made all the more amazing because of its six motors instead of the usual four.

The two forward props are white while the remainder are black to aid with orientation. A big help in that regard turned out to be the onboard LEDs, lighting blue in front and red in back. Since a great deal of the control board is exposed, the lighting sometimes appeared purple.

The H20 thread here at RCGroups claimed the battery has a JST 1.25mm plug similar to the Team Losi nano plug, but the polarity is reversed.

It's possible to desolder the jack from the motherboard and flip it around for use with normally polarized batteries, but that would make it necessary to swap the pins on the supplied battery. It would also make the supplied USB charger obsolete.

JJRC claims a charging time of 45 minutes but my battery was partially charged as I'd expected, topping off in about ten minutes with the LED on the charger glowing red.

Basic Flying

The transmitter will need a couple of AA-cell alkaline batteries and, of course, I had exactly one new one on hand. I had to first undo the screw holding down the battery door's tab (why, I ask, is that necessary?) before popping in a couple of borrowed NiMH cells from my Spektrum DX6i. The design looks for all the world like a copy of a Hubsan transmitter, but according to experimenters here at RCGroups, it seems to have its own protocol despite a chipset on board the model which is compatible with a number of open source protocols. I tried the transmitters from my Hubsan-sourced Estes Proto X and my Sanlianhuan-sourced Common Sense RC Predator quadcopters and neither one worked with the H20. That ruled out trying the transmitter from my Cheerson SH 6057 "Flying Egg" since it uses the same protocol as the Predator.

Normally, one would power up the transmitter before the model, but not in this case per the instructions. The plug is a real bear for someone like me with large fingers, but I eventually got it to go in. That instruction sheet is about what I'd expected from JJRC, namely a bunch of machine translated English. This is my third JJRC model and the previous examples were just as bad.

The H20 is then to be placed on a flat, level surface for a couple of seconds before switching on the transmitter. It then lets out a series of beeps, the lights onboard the model will flash rapidly and then steadily once the link is established. Moving the throttle to full and back again arms the H20, confirmed by a single beep on the transmitter. With that, I was ready to buzz my living room.

Liftoff on the default low rate is smooth and gentle although, as is the case with transmitters of this type, throttle input is touchy. I kind of expected that given lots of recent experience with nanos.

What I didn't expect was how much it flies like a quadcopter. Basic hovering and forward flight are indistinguishable from a quad, but the two extra motors give it noticeably more forward oomph. While hovering is steady, transitioning from fast forward flight back to hover is mushy in low rates; the H20 doesn't want to simply pull up to a stop and the result is a lot of counter controlling to get it to stay put.

Bumping to medium rates via the button on the top left of the transmitter helped quite a bit. Control was better, although still not as precise as I would have liked. Mind you, I'm used to big machines and this is a micro model which retails for less than twenty bucks, so based on that criterion, it's a darn good flier.

High rates were something else altogether. Pitch and bank were basically unchanged, but the yaw was now incredibly fast, causing the model to spin wildly in hover and, in much the same way as forward flight, the gyros aren't fast enough to compensate for going back to neutral. It continued to spin for a few degrees at stick neutral before settling down.

This was fun for simply doing spins, but since any multirotor is steered with both sticks, forward flight was nearly impossible.

Flips were a joy and were as simple as merely pressing the button on the top right. A series of beeps alerts the pilot and all one has to do is to move the right stick in the desired direction of the flip.

After roughly five minutes of indoor flying fun, the lights on the H20 started flashing their low battery warning and I landed the model immediately. A check of the battery voltage on my computerized charger showed it to be at a very safe 3.72V.

Other Special Flight Features and Flyaway Problem

It seems that many manufacturers feel a need to toss rudimentary return-to-home and headless functions on small machines like this which don't need them.

Pressing the right stick activates the return-to-home. All it does is to pitch the model backward, so unless the tail is pointed directly at the pilot, the function is useless. The headless mode is slightly better, activated by pressing the left stick and confirmed by flashing the lights on the model. It works to some degree, keeping the nose locked down a bit more than normal.

In short, neither function is particularly useful.

Here's where things got dicey on its first outdoor flight. This model's thread here at RCGroups.com discusses a problem with flyaways if radio contact is lost. The H20 will simply continue off in whatever direction it happens to be pointed when contact is lost for several seconds before shutting down.

Losing that contact doesn't take much distance; the receiver's aerial lies horizontally beneath the body shell. So too does the transmitter aerial.

I took the H20 to a park near where I work to see how well it would fly outdoors in breezy conditions. Everything started OK, but when the model was only about fifteen feet in front of me, it throttled up full and rocketed away to my right toward some trees. There's a fenced-off water treatment plant next to those trees and all I could do was to watch helplessly as the H20 zoomed up and over those very tall trees and toward the fence. I hurried over to where I thought it might have come down and, miracle of miracles, it had landed upside down in some soft dirt at the very edge of the fence.

Two things are certain. One, this little hex can handle crashes. Two, it may be among the fastest nanos on the market, but I promised myself that I wasn't going to explore that aspect anytime soon.

I recharged the battery and did a distance check at home. I live in a fairly large, open house and I was able to go further away from the model than I was when it lost control. No problem.

Out in the street, the H20 didn't fare as well. Once more, the little quad was only a short distance away before signal was lost. It continued on its low and slow forward flight for a couple of seconds before shutting off and crashing. Went over, picked it up, checked it out, flew it around in front of me for a bit, no problem. I took it a few feet down the street, it kept going and fell out of the sky once more. I stood where I was to see if it would throttle up, but no. I had to walk toward it to get the motors to respond.

"Branflakes," a commenter on the discussion thread of my review of Gearbest's Floureon FX-10 nano quadcopter, claimed his FX-10 would travel nearly out of sight by simply modifying the transmitter's internal aerial to extend out through a hole drilled in the case. I'd considered that idea myself for this model; as a ham radio operator, I know the importance of a good antenna. Besides, I didn't want an unsightly aerial sticking out from atop the H20 as suggested in this model's thread.

It only took a moment to take apart the H20's transmitter with a small Philips screwdriver. Lo and behold, the transmitter didn't have a simple wire flopping all over the inside of the case but a real miniature coaxial cable of the type found on full-range receivers! I drilled a 1/16" hole atop the case, reassembled the transmitter with the coaxial aerial extending from the hole and tried flying outdoors once more.

That, dear reader, did the trick. That simple modification allowed me to fly further away than I had ever flown the H20. In fact, I was able to fly far enough away so as to almost lose orientation, although I kept it fairly low to the ground. A later check of the discussion thread showed that the original posted had done exactly the same thing.

Soon after the near loss and subsequent modification, the H20 joined my wife and I on a trip to San Diego to visit my sister and brother-in-law. They live in a condo on a quiet cul-de-sac and some blasts up and down that street turned out fine.

So too did some indoor sorties with my wife Lilli snapping pictures with her iPhone 6+.

I may locate a small length of suitably sized tubing at some point to protect the aerial, but for now, it works great.

Confirming my success was the video shoot at the Coachella Valley Radio Club outside of Palm Springs where club videographer George Muir was on hand to record the action on the helicopter pad.

The conditions were perfect with no wind and I put the H20 through all sorts of maneuvers including flips. I even took it downrange quite far and at no time did I ever lose signal.

With only one battery, the fun was over all too soon. I plan to purchase more at my earliest convenience.

Aerobatics and Special Flight Performance

A big part of the fun is the flip function. It's as easy to use as that of any small multirotor I've reviewed and does so very well considering those two extra motors.

Fun too is the yaw on the high control rate. The lights become a purple blur and the model looks every bit the part of a UFO.

Coordinated flight on low and medium rates is excellent overall; the power of those extra motors is a big plus.

Is This For a Beginner?

Absolutely! It's easy to fly, will take some hits and it's about as inexpensive a way to learn the basics of multirotor flight as anything one is likely to find. Even the instruction sheet has good - if poorly translated - practice tips and exercises for beginners.

I would simply exercise a lot of caution regarding outdoor flights even if one chooses to modify the transmitter. This is a small machine and easily blown about in the breeze.

Flight Video and Photo Gallery

Here am I on a perfectly calm Sunday morning flying the H20:

JJRC H20 Nano Hexacopter from Gearbest.com (3 min 7 sec)

This is the Gearbest/JJRC factory video showing the incredibly fast yaw rate:

JJRC H20 Hexacopter - Gearbest.com (1 min 45 sec)

Conclusion

I can't help but conclude that the JJRC H20 nano hexacopter was rushed to market. It flies well, but suffers from serious radio range issues out of the box which could have been corrected by simply relocating the transmitter's aerial. It has spare parts support, but the required battery has a reverse polarity connector. Yes, it's an $18.99 toylike model, but I believe that JJRC should have paid attention to the details better than they did. I'd hoped that JJRC would have stepped up its game since my two previous encounters, but that doesn't seem to be the case.

On a more positive note, this is an incredible bargain for less than twenty bucks with free shipping. Flown indoors, it's tremendous fun. With the transmitter modification, it's fun to fly outside although it's difficult to keep oriented because the LEDs wash out.

I paid more than $20 on a lark for an IR-controlled coaxial helicopter from a San Diego convenience store a couple of years ago. It was my intention to do a fun review here at RCG as to whether or not such an impulse buy was worth the cost. Let's simply say that I flew the whee out of it and got my twenty bucks' worth, but it died a long time ago. It was a handful to fly; all it was designed to do was to circle and even that was hard to do.

In that short time, we now have far more sophisticated machines for the same price, machines like the H20. Who knows what the next two years will bring?

So, with the range issue seemingly solved, I'm giving the H20 two thumbs up. This is a lot of machine despite its size and the price makes it simply irresistible.

Once more, I have the privilege of thanking Adam and the crew at Gearbest.com for providing this fascinating little model. Angela Haglund and Jim T. Graham man the RCGroups.com administrators' desk on behalf of our worlwide audience of hobby enthusiasts.

Thanks for visiting!

Pluses and Minuses

Pluses include:

  • Incredibly low purchase price
  • Flies great
  • Fun both indoors and out
  • Replacement parts are presently available through a number of online sources
  • Excellent flip function
  • A terrific choice for any R/C pilot regardless of skill level

Minuses include:

  • Radio range problems may result in a flyaway, although extending the transmitter aerial through the top of the case helped the problem
  • The battery has a non-standard, reverse polarity plug
  • Battery plug is difficult to insert
  • Poorly translated instruction sheet
Last edited by DismayingObservation; Sep 29, 2015 at 02:45 PM..
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Oct 09, 2015, 10:27 AM
Suspended Account
Always a pleasure reading these reviews here on RCGroups. Though I fly the big stuff,I do enjoy the technology that goes into these smaller craft.

They are fun on those rainy days when you can't fly outdoors and keeps your stick skills sharp!
Oct 09, 2015, 09:16 PM
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DismayingObservation's Avatar
Thread OP
I agree! These sorts of affordable, great flying little multis are the perfect rainy day companion. The price is simply unbeatable and it flies incredibly well.
Nov 03, 2015, 06:51 AM
@goingdroning

Awesome review!


Mr. Ralph,

How would you rate the stick input difficulty?

My Proto X is a pain to fly because the pots are just too difficult to move with any sort of precision being so small. And getting it trimmed out can take half of a battery at times, so it ends up being a lot of jittery flying about with little stationary hovering precision.

Hoping my next nano will have smooth sticks that are easy to move. This larger controller might help with that I hope.

Thanks.
Nov 04, 2015, 04:27 PM
Registered User
Will the wltoys v252 tx work on this quad. It works on my JJRC 1000. Or is the protocol different?
Thanks
Nov 04, 2015, 06:23 PM
Fan of just about anything RC
SoloProFan's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by MicroHeliManiac
Will the wltoys v252 tx work on this quad. It works on my JJRC 1000. Or is the protocol different?
Thanks
Different protocol. Sadly the H20, H8 3D and H22 3D use a new protocol, and there are no high power alternate transmitters for it yet.
Latest blog entry: For the love of the hobby!
Nov 06, 2015, 10:11 AM
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Thread OP
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeremy A
Mr. Ralph,

How would you rate the stick input difficulty?

My Proto X is a pain to fly because the pots are just too difficult to move with any sort of precision being so small. And getting it trimmed out can take half of a battery at times, so it ends up being a lot of jittery flying about with little stationary hovering precision.

Hoping my next nano will have smooth sticks that are easy to move. This larger controller might help with that I hope.

Thanks.
Hello, Mr. Jeremy!

I too have a Proto X and large hands. Those thumb pads on the sticks don't help. I've just had to learn the fine art of not overcontrolling.

This little machine is a much smoother flyer and a newer design to boot, so the smallish transmitter hasn't proved to be a problem. The extra motors and larger size definitely add to the stability, but just remember the very fast yaw rate on the high control rates. The thing will spin like a top at hover.


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