JJRC FPV/Video System from Banggood.com Review

JJRC, YiZhan and WLtoys quad users, rejoice. Hi-def FPV and video have arrived.

Splash

Introduction


JJRC FPV/Video System
Screen Size:4.3" (109mm) diagonal measure
Operating Frequency:5.8GHz with eight selectable frequencies
Resolution:720p video; 2MP (1600x1200) photo
Maximum Operating Range:655' - 985' (200-300m)
Compatible With:JJRC H16/YiZhan Tarantula X6; WLtoys V666, V666N, V686K, V686G, V222; all camera-equipped WLtoys quadcopters with camera
Batteries:500mAh 3.7V lithium polymer monitor battery; lithium polymer camera battery, size not given
Receiver Antenna:5.8GHz planar with gold plated SMA connector
Available From:Banggood.com
Price (USD):$51.99 with free shipping to the USA via Air Parcel Registered Mail

One of the more pleasant surprises I've had of late was to fly and review the JJRC Tarantula X6 quadcopter on behalf of RCGroups.com. Also known as the JJRC H16 and the YiZhan Tarantula X6, it's a machine which has garnered quite a following if this model's thread and scores of how-to videos on YouTube are any indication, all within less than a year as of this writing. It's a good overall flyer, but pitch and bank are too sensitive at center stick. The X6 is also surprisingly quick and takes good video once the serious issue of vibration - or "Jello Effect" - is addressed.

All in all, a great little entry level quad.

JJRC decided to take that level of greatness a step further with their new FPV and video system. When James, my contact at Banggood.com read my review, he asked if I'd be interested in giving this new plug-n-play system a try. It's designed to work not only with many JJRC and YiZhan quads but with any popular camera-equipped machine from WLtoys as well.

Naturally, I said yes and it's my pleasure to present this review of a fun accessory for scores of RTF quad pilots.

Contents

The system comes as a complete package:

  • Video screen with 500mAh 3.7V li-po battery already installed
  • Receiving antenna with standard SMA connector
  • Camera with built-in battery and adjustable tilt
  • Transmitter brackets and camera shoes for various applications
  • USB charger cord for both the screen and camera

Needed to get going:

  • Compatible model
  • Micro SD card and reader for video and photos

My first impressions were quite favorable; the unit looks like an improved version of the one supplied with my WLtoys Q282G hexacopter. Improved as well is the system's planar antenna, a decidedly sophisticated way to insure reception over the operating frequency range.

Another great impression was waiting behind the screen's battery door. It was a 500mAh li-po battery identical to the flight battery in the Q282G! Amazing as well was the camera with its own lithium polymer battery. It's heavier than the stock camera of the X6, but only a bit when checked by hand and certainly not enough to affect the flight characteristics. Its own battery also takes quite a bit of load off of the model's 1200mAh 2S flight battery which makes up for the negligible extra weight. I'll jump ahead here and state that the battery came down noticeably cooler than usual after my first test flight, a real plus.

Another real plus is a lens which can actually be tilted! The original camera's lens could be tilted, but the mount is extremely sloppy and the lens wouldn't stay tilted fully up without some tape to hold it in place. Instead, the new camera has knurled knobs at either side which allow for tilting at almost any angle. I admit that when I first saw the knobs, I was reminded of another camera equipped quad I'd reviewed not long before. Its lens was fixed in place - and the adjustment knobs were simulated!

Both monitor and camera can be charged from the double USB charger. Charging both units at once seemed to work well when powered by an Apple AC adapter for the first test flight, but I elected to charge one unit at a time after that. Oddly enough, there's no manual to instruct the user on how the charger - or anything else - actually works. The instructions, such as they are, are instead on the back of the box.

Getting Ready

Swapping the cameras only took a minute or so; the FPV camera was a perfect fit on the X6's mount and its wiring leads plugged right into the model's camera control receptacle. The screen fit perfectly onto the transmitter with nothing more than the smaller of the two brackets and the two knurled thumbscrews. With the antenna in place via its SMA connector, the system was ready.

At first, I saw nothing on the screen other than snow. Checking the three DIP switches on both the monitor and camera showed they didn't match each other. Easy fix.

The switches are an ingenious way to select between eight different operating frequencies with each switch assigned more than one frequency; the system decides for itself which frequency it will use to bind the units to one another. I powered down the units, flipped the DIP switches with the first one up and the others down, tried again and within a few seconds, the screen came alive.

Moving the model by hand showed the live video feed to be nearly free of latency; it's the best I've seen on any inexpensive FPV system I've tested to date. With the 8GB micro SD card from the stock camera in place, the display showed not only battery and RF levels but total available recording time as well via a telemetry link! With the card later cleared of old video from the original camera along with the new test video, the monitor showed nearly 2 1/2 hours of total recording time. With the video function activated, the numbers change to red, reset to zero and begin counting up.

Since I had the aforementioned WLtoys Q282G hexacopter close at hand, I thought I'd give this FPV system a try. Once I found the frequency on DIP switch number three, it worked perfectly.

With everything installed and ready, I fired up both the system and the X6 and walked it outside to the street.

FPV and Video

One of the complaints I've had in recent reviews of inexpensive systems such as this one is the difficulty of viewing the screen in sunlight. Much to my delight, the screen on this system showed up quite well.

The test flight out over the street in front of my house showed no Jello Effect thanks to my simple modification of using a single square of hook-and-loop fastener to retain the camera and mount. So clear was the FPV screen that I found myself actually looking to it despite the relatively crowded flight conditions with trees, houses and parked cars.

I was shooting video at the same time on the original camera's 8GB card and thanks to both the card's capacity and the incredibly helpful time function on the monitor, I had no fear of running out of memory anytime soon.

Viewing the results of the video were a bit disappointing.

As I'd mentioned, there was old footage from the review of the X6 itself taken with the original camera. That video was sharp and clear. By comparison, the video of the new camera wasn't nearly as sharp with some visible noise and very noticeable pixelation in darker areas.

On the plus side, the horrible Jello Effect which had plagued the original camera had all but disappeared. Perhaps it was the Velcro mount, but my one big complaint about the X6 was now gone. Some Jello is evident on the video, but it's still a vast improvement over what I had to deal with when I first tested the model.

That virtual elimination of the Jello meant giving the FPV a serious try, which I did. Full rates on the Tarantula are extremely sensitive, so most of my flying is done on the medium rates with pinched sticks like a CCPM helicopter instead of thumbs only as I do with most airplanes. Flying it in this manner doesn't completely eliminate the overly sensitive controls, but it does help to tame it somewhat.

Tilting the lens upward compensated for the downward tilt of the model in forward flight and although I kept the model itself in visual view most of the time, I was actually comfortable flying it via the monitor!

I tried the FPV at all three video locations and all three times I was able to fly with a combination of the monitor and regular visual flight. The signal did get a little weak at times which manifested itself in some horizontal lines, but all in all, not too shabby. No latency, no freezing and thanks to the planar antenna, no complete loss of signal. Perhaps the biggest advantage to the system was noticeably longer flight battery life, not to mention a cooler running battery.

It also allowed me to frame up some still photos at my final stop; the X6 hovers nicely in calm conditions and the FPV made doing something close to composition of the stills easy and fun.

Is This For a Beginner?

Yes! Not only does the system add a new dimension of fun to an already popular line of entry level quadcopters, it does so remarkably well. The FPV screen is bright and clear, although it does wash out to some degree outdoors. However, the lithium polymer battery allows for a brighter picture than one might normally find on a system such as this.

Flight Video and Photo Gallery

Here's my video shot at some of my usual places for such things. The video is unprocessed and straight off of the SD card, into the computer, through the editor and up to YouTube:

JJRC FPV Video System from Banggood com - RCGroups.com (5 min 3 sec)

These are the shots I took at Fritz Burns Park in La Quinta, California with the aid of the FPV screen. They're in full 1600x1200 resolution, once more straight from the SD card.

Conclusion

I've taken JJRC products to task in recent reviews, but the JJRC FPV/video system from Banggood.com is unquestionably the best product from the brand I've ever reviewed. It isn't perfect; video quality isn't as crisp as that of the camera which came with the X6, but it's at least good for fun shoots and it's nearly free of the Jello Effect. On top of that, it has a truly usable FPV screen. As an upgrade to a quad with no camera, this system simply cannot be beaten. So, two thumbs up!

My thanks to James at Banggood.com for offering this system for review. This is a fun, functional accessory and it gives me the perfect excuse to fly the X6 more often than I do.

Angela Haglund and Jim T. Graham work tirelessly at the administrators' desk to keep these reviews coming - and our audience is the reason! Thanks once more for visiting RCGroups.com!

Pluses and Minuses

Pluses include:

  • Sharp, clear FPV screen
  • Lithium polymer power for both camera and monitor
  • The lithium polymer camera battery needs no power from the model's flight battery
  • Will work with a wide range of entry level model quads
  • Virtually no Jello Effect if the camera and stock X6 mount are attached with a square of Velcro
  • Selectable operating frequencies mean that more than one system can be used at once
  • Planar antenna with its gold-plated SMA connector reduces picture dropouts
  • Telemetry system informs the pilot of time remaining on the SD card
  • A fun and functional way of adding both a camera and an FPV system to models which lack a camera

Minuses include:

  • Video quality not quite as sharp as that of the original X6 camera
  • Still photo quality could be sharper as well; there's plenty of room on the original camera's 8GB card
Last edited by DismayingObservation; Oct 30, 2015 at 02:42 AM..
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Nov 10, 2015, 12:42 AM
Registered User
Maybe I missed it somewhere, but was the overall weight of the camera mentioned? Just trying to figure out how much weight in total I would be adding to some of the smaller quads that would support this set-up?
Nov 10, 2015, 08:53 AM
Pronoun trouble...
DismayingObservation's Avatar
Thread OP
Quote:
Originally Posted by RACERX167
Maybe I missed it somewhere, but was the overall weight of the camera mentioned? Just trying to figure out how much weight in total I would be adding to some of the smaller quads that would support this set-up?
I'd hoped that the camera weight would have been given, but it wasn't. I had no scale to weigh the two, but I can tell you that the FPV camera is slightly heavier.
Feb 04, 2016, 07:14 PM
R/C Superfan
aben71's Avatar
I like it,nice add on to a tarantula x6If I wasn't currently about to buy an Eachine racer 250 this would be a great option,still something I made get to put on my X6 sometime.
Feb 05, 2016, 08:34 PM
Pronoun trouble...
DismayingObservation's Avatar
Thread OP
Quote:
Originally Posted by aben71
I like it,nice add on to a tarantula x6If I wasn't currently about to buy an Eachine racer 250 this would be a great option,still something I made get to put on my X6 sometime.
I've read your blogs and I know how much you enjoy your X6. It's a fun addition, especially given how much you fly your machine. If you pull the trigger for one of these systems, please post a blog and let everyone know!
Feb 11, 2016, 10:21 AM
R/C Superfan
aben71's Avatar
You bet,I certainly will,by the way do you think the screen would be compatible with other fpv cameras?I ask because I recently ordered a walkera runner 250 and I will be in need of a screen or goggles and thought with this system I could maybe get my X6 set up with fpv and the screen could double for use withethe Runner as well
Feb 11, 2016, 06:34 PM
R/C Superfan
aben71's Avatar
The more I look into this the more I ask myself"why haven't I bought this setup for my X6 already?"
Last edited by aben71; Feb 12, 2016 at 10:12 AM.


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