The DRAK 5.8GHz Video Transmitter - RCGroups Review - RC Groups

The DRAK 5.8GHz Video Transmitter - RCGroups Review

Three VTx's in one, the DRAK is a 5.8GHz video transmitter with selectable output power levels. We test the DRAK from BuddyRC on a Bixler II airframe.

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The DRAK is a Winner in my Book. Read and Find Out Why!

Product:DragonriderFPV DRAK 5.8VTx
Frequencies:40-channels with Raceband
Input voltage:5v to 20v (2s to 4s LiPo)
Output voltage:5v to 19v
Output power:25mw, 200mw, 600mw
Weight:12.3g w/o antenna or wiring harness
Size:38X28X8mm
Antenna connector:SMA
Available from:BuddyRC.com
Price:$64.95

With the multitude of different flying styles in the FPV community, pilots often find themselves with different power-output video transmitters; sometimes the 25mw VTx on a race quad isn't the best option for a larger fixed-wing platform that can cover a lot of airspace and explore the countryside. Additionally, having a VTx that could pull double duty for limited power-output racing and higher power-output FPV proximity flying would be ideal.

Fortunately, DragonriderFPV has delivered just such a VTx, dubbed the DRAK. Sold exclusively through BuddyRC, the DRAK is a selectable power-output video transmitter on 5.8GHz. Choosing between 25mw, 200mw, and 600mw, the pilot has the ability to race on the track and not swamp the other racers, then push the button and utilize the higher power for proximity flying and distance runs.

In this review, I'll test the DRAK on a Bixler II fixed-wing FPV platform. Each power-output level will be flown and summarized post flight. Let's take a look at the DRAK, and don't forget to watch the review video below for the full test!

DragonriderFPV DRAK 5.8GHz Video Transmitter - RCGroups.com Review (22 min 13 sec)

What's Included. Fit and Finish

The DRAK looks almost identical to the current 5.8GHz style of VTx on the market; an aluminum-cased transmitter that's slightly larger than a postage stamp. It weighs in at 12.3 grams without the antenna or wiring, and has plenty of vent holes on the back of the case to keep it cool. Included in the box is a 5.8GHz monopole antenna and a pair of wiring harnesses. One harness is wired for a GoPro or similar camera with a USB video output, and the other harness is ready for DIY soldering your own leads; it contains wires for video signal input, audio input, a pair of ground wires, 7v to 19v output for powering a flight camera, a separate 5v output for powering a flight camera, and a mini JST connector for powering the DRAK at voltages between 5v and 20v.

Upon opening the lid, I noticed a correction to the wiring diagram. Apparently, the text on the back of the aluminum case labels the audio and video wrong. The wires are in the correct place, but the label is wrong. There's no need to switch any wiring around, and it's quite obvious as to the identity of each wire: yellow for video and white for audio. No problem, moving on...

I like the fact that it has a wide input and output voltage range, meaning I don't have to use a regulator for the DRAK or a camera if I power it from the DRAK, as long as my main battery isn't larger than 4S.

Switching between output-power levels is as easy as pushing the button, and the unit can stay powered while switching.

The DRAK includes a monopole antenna. It's linear-polarized and in my opinion, not even needed; almost everyone uses circular-polarized antennas these days, so it's getting pushed aside in favor of a Video Aerial Systems (IBCrazy) omni antenna. The picture above shows their short race antenna with the built-in balun/choke, but in the review, I went with the IBCrazy whip antenna.

Bands and Channels

The DRAK has 5 different bands and 40 channels to chose from, including raceband frequencies. Push the channel button on the lower left of the case to change channels. Push and hold for one second to change bands. It's easy to identify the channel and band, thanks to the red lights on the display. Keep the box around, as the corresponding frequencies and bands are listed on the back.

Bench Temperature Tests

Temperature tests were done on the bench with no airflow over the DRAK, and powered by a 3s LiPo. I let the unit sit for 10 minutes before taking the temperature, and recording the highest temp observed. In the below photos, the highest recorded temperature is listed as the small number in the top of the temp gun's screen.

Field Tests

At the FPV field, I setup on top of a large dirt hill, and used the ImmersionRC Duo 5800 receiver with a TrueRC X2-Air on one side and a Fatshark skew planar wheel on the other. The X2-Air from TrueRC is an excellent long range antenna with a 150-degree horizontal beamwidth and 13dBic of gain. You can read Jim Graham's review of the antenna right here on RCGroups.

I performed three separate flights with the Bixler II equipped with the DRAK VTx. Each flight consisted of average distance runs and some proximity dodging low to the ground. I purposely tried (and exceeded) to drop below hills to test the signal penetration. As you would expect, 5.8GHz has poor penetration and signal dropped abruptly when trying this. I'll come right out and say it: the DRAK met and exceeded my expectations from the first flight at the 25mw setting. I was able to explore my entire site and easily push out past 1700 feet with great signal strength; I could have easily doubled that distance on 25mw.

Bumping the power to 200mw and 600mw produced results just as I expected; plenty of high-quality signal strength perfect for traveling out and dodging behind trees. Out near 1-mile I had superb signal strength with room to continue on if I wanted to.

Video Review

DragonriderFPV DRAK 5.8GHz Video Transmitter - RCGroups.com Review (22 min 13 sec)

Conclusion

The DRAK from DragonriderFPV is the proverbial triple-threat of 5.8 video transmitters. It can be used at the 25mw level for racing without swamping your opponents, and easily transferred to another platform for longer range flying and proximity dodging at higher output levels. I had no problems with the fit and finish of the DRAK, and it performed above my expectations on all power output levels. If you'd like to experience the DRAK for yourself, head over to BuddyRC.com and pick one up! Thanks for reading my review, and a big thanks to Doug Tussing and BuddyRC for sending me a DRAK to test. Happy flying!

Last edited by Matt Gunn; Jan 08, 2016 at 01:16 PM..
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Jan 08, 2016, 12:21 PM
400' ..... NOT
Martin Y's Avatar
Nice review Matt. Looks like a nice little game changer.
Latest blog entry: 1280mhz vs 1090mhz
Jan 08, 2016, 12:28 PM
Registered User
You are most welcome! Thank you for the awesome review and honesty!

Its all I fly!
Jan 08, 2016, 12:35 PM
Closed Account
Hello Matt
Thanks for this great review ,It looks awesome
Gary Mount
Customer Service Mgr.
BuddyRc
Jan 08, 2016, 12:48 PM
WOT and going nowhere
Looks awesome! Definitely a versatile vTx.

I'm curious as to why output is 7v-19v instead of 5v-19v... a large portion of flight cameras out there are 5v, it would seem that the DRAK would have to be used with a step- down reg in order to power 5v cameras. Is there any hope of making 5v output native?
Jan 08, 2016, 12:52 PM
Registered User
Quote:
Originally Posted by Julezwatts
Looks awesome! Definitely a versatile vTx.

I'm curious as to why output is 7v-19v instead of 5v-19v... a large portion of flight cameras out there are 5v, it would seem that the DRAK would have to be used with a step- down reg in order to power 5v cameras. Is there any hope of making 5v output native?
Drak transmitter can accept a wide range of DC input from 6 to 20V, meaning 2S to 4S LiPo can be used directly to power up the unit. It also has two set DC output that can support both 5V and 12V cameras without using an additional BEC.
Jan 08, 2016, 01:15 PM
RCGroups Editor
Matt Gunn's Avatar

Oops! Mistake in wording on my part.


Quote:
Originally Posted by BuddyRc Doug
Drak transmitter can accept a wide range of DC input from 6 to 20V, meaning 2S to 4S LiPo can be used directly to power up the unit. It also has two set DC output that can support both 5V and 12V cameras without using an additional BEC.
Guys, I made a mistake in listing the output wires.

There are two sets of output wires for powering cameras. One is 5v, and the other is 7-19v.


So the DRAK can power a 5v or 12v camera safely. Sorry for the confusion, review text fixed!
Jan 09, 2016, 07:17 PM
Halloechen aus Texas !
It would be great to see a transmitter that allows disabling the RF output, for safe channel switching in the pits. In other words, another power level setting for 0 mw.
Jan 10, 2016, 07:43 PM
Engineer for Christ
IBCrazy's Avatar
Looks good! What is the current draw on this unit at different power levels? Every 32+ channel transmitter I have seen pulls excessively high current and tends to burn out the voltage regulator. I'm hoping this one doesn't have that issue.

-Alex
Jan 10, 2016, 08:12 PM
Registered User
rpstar's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by BuddyRc Doug
Drak transmitter can accept a wide range of DC input from 6 to 20V, meaning 2S to 4S LiPo can be used directly to power up the unit. It also has two set DC output that can support both 5V and 12V cameras without using an additional BEC.
Nice but unless it's filtered it would seem to be of limited utility. If you have to have a filter might as well regulate it also.
Last edited by rpstar; Jan 10, 2016 at 08:20 PM.
Jan 11, 2016, 09:03 AM
Registered User
schumixmd's Avatar
1. hit accidentally the "power" (from 25 to 200) button before the race and you f***ed up everyone. Also give possibility to cheat.
2. hit accidentally the "power" (from 600 to 25) button before your long range flight, and you're f***ed up!

what I want to say is that switching the power level should be done at least with a 3 position switch or dip switches but not with a button placed where it can be easily pressed.
Last edited by schumixmd; Jan 11, 2016 at 02:34 PM. Reason: Spelling
Jan 11, 2016, 03:55 PM
Genoma
put some tape over it?
Jan 11, 2016, 04:18 PM
14s 180mah should be enough...
IFLYOS's Avatar
Nice job, Matt! I'll have to pick one up.
Latest blog entry: Intro..a few years to late!
Jan 11, 2016, 06:25 PM
RCGroups Editor
Matt Gunn's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by schumixmd
1. hit accidentally the "power" (from 25 to 200) button before the race and you f***ed up everyone. Also give possibility to cheat.
2. hit accidentally the "power" (from 600 to 25) button before your long range flight, and you're f***ed up!

what I want to say is that switching the power level should be done at least with a 3 position switch or dip switches but not with a button placed where it can be easily pressed.
Once you put this VTx in your hands (or on your rig) you'll understand: you can't just accidentally push the buttons. They are very low profile and require a firm push to depress. It's kinda like the Ronco 4000 - "Set it and forget it!"
Jan 12, 2016, 02:57 PM
Registered User
Any word on if other frequencies are in the works?


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