Xiro Xplorer G RTF Drone Review

The Xiro Xplorer G is a ready to fly drone that is suitable for aerial photography or sport flying...

Splash

Introduction

Rotor Diameter: 13.75" (350mm) Diagonal
Weight: 2.65lbs (1202g) RTF
Battery: 3S 5200mAH Smart Lipo
Prop Size: 9.4"
Flight Time: 25 Minutes
Max Range: 500M
Price: $699.99
Available at: Tower Hobbies

The Xiro Xplorer G is a ready to fly drone that is suitable for aerial photography or sport flying. It's a professional looking kit that is refined in everything from the component quality to the feature set. The small size and removable gimbal and folding landing gear make it a great quad to take on trips. This review unit is the G version with 3 axis gimbal for a GoPro Hero 3 or 4. They also make a V version that includes a 1080P camera system as well as a sport version with no camera or gimbal. Let's crack open the box and take a peek inside and see what we have.

What's in the Box

The Xiro comes ready to fly and there is nothing else to buy. Here's a list of all the items inside the box.

  • Xiro airframe with all electronics installed
  • Control transmitter
  • Wifi extender module
  • 3-Axis GoPro camera gimbal
  • 3S 5200mAH lipo battery
  • Battery charger
  • 8 propellers
  • Micro USB cable
  • Neck strap
  • Tools and extra screws
  • User manual

Assembly

There is not a lot to do to get the Xiro ready to fly. The first thing you should do is connect the charger and start charging the flight battery and transmitter. The charger has a USB port which you can use to charge the transmitter at the same time as the flight battery, but I would not recommend doing that. The charger got extremely hot while charging both at the same time so I disconnected the transmitter and used a USB outlet on my wall to charge it separately from the flight battery. The smart battery has LED's on it with a button you can push at anytime to see the charge status of the battery. Those lights are also used while charging to indicate indicate the charge status.

If you want to fly with the camera gimbal, you'll need to connect it. It simply snaps in place and the contacts for the gimbal control and video feed automatically line up and make contact. It's genius! There is a little pull tab that when pulled out allows you to take the gimbal off in less than a second. It's really convenient and allows you to break it down very small for packing up in a case or backpack.

The props are self tightening and color coded to match the motors. The props have markings on them letting you know which way to rotate them to install or remove. They can be installed and removed in seconds and they won't come loose during flight.

The battery slides in place and then is secured with a locking tab. The lock is a smart lock so if it is not in the locked position, you'll get error lights on the copter and you won't be able to take off. That's another user friendly feature I really liked. It is safe, secure and allows you to remove and replace the flight battery in seconds. That's all there is to the assembly, you're ready to fly in minutes after the batteries are charged.

Transmitter

The transmitter is nice to look at with rounded corners and a two- tone grey and matte black color scheme. It feels good in my hands and the ergonomics are great. The gimbals are better than I expected and the spring tensions are just right for my taste. The power switch is on the back behind the carry handle and is easy to access without having to look at it. There is also a vibration motor inside that gives feedback when you power on the radio and for other warnings. The control sticks can also be changed electronically to any of the 4 control modes.

When you power the radio on, there are 4 icons that light up to indicate the status of each function. The wifi icon will be green if you have the camera gimbal and wifi extender connected. It will be red if only the wifi extended is connected, and it will not light up if the extender is removed from the back. The Aircraft Connection icon is green if everything is connected properly and will be red if there is an alarm. The GPS icon will be green in GPS mode and red for Attitude mode if not enough satellites are acquired (6 or more for GPS mode). If the Aircraft Connection and GPS icons are flashing then the Xiro aircraft is not powered on or disconnected from the radio. The battery icon shows you the status of the radio battery. If it is green, you are good to go, if it is flashing red, then the battery is low and needs to be charged.

Above the status lights are 3 buttons for Orientation Control, Return to Home, and Auto Takeoff/Land, we'll discuss those modes later. The buttons depress to activate the mode and lights up when active. The button remains in a low position and you need to press the button again to disable the mode and allow the button to return to the normal position.

Above those buttons is a neck strap loop to connect the included strap to so you can hang the transmitter from your neck. I chose not to use this. Above that is a 3 position sliding switch that is used to select the Flight Level setting. These control how high, far away Xiro can go as well as how fast the Xiro will move. On the top left and right are two spring loaded scroll wheels. The one of the left controls the brightness of the status indicator lights on the Xiro and the one on the right controls the tilt angle position of the camera gimbal. All the switches are easy and comfortable to access. I'd give the radio an A+ for design, comfort and function.

Flight Modes

Auto Takeoff/Land

The auto takeoff/land mode allows for easy... well... take offs and landings. Once the Xiro has been powered on and locked in to 6 satellites or more, you can push the control sticks into the bottom outer corners to arm the motors. Once the motors are spinning at an idle, you can push in the auto takeoff/land button on the transmitter and the Xiro will spool up, takeoff and climb to about 3M high and hover. In my tests the altitude it stopped to hover at was less than 3M. Once it is in place you can depress the button to exit the auto takeoff mode. Landing works in the same way. Make sure you are over a suitable landing area and push the button in. The Xiro will slowly descend and land. I have to say that the Xiro does this better than any other drone I've tested. Where most drones land and bounce around for a bit before shutting down the motors, the Xiro just nails it perfectly. It lands soft and shuts the motors off at the right time. I don't think I could do it better myself manually, it's that good.

Flight Level Modes

The Xiro has 3 flight levels that you can select via the switch on the front of the transmitter. Level 1 is the most docile and safest mode to be in for your first flights. While in level 1, the Xiro will not take off unless it has a solid GPS signal of 6 satellites or more. The maximum vertical and horizontal speed is limited to 2m/s. The max distance you can fly away from the home position is 100M and the max height it will let you fly is 50M.

Level 2 is slightly more aggressive and allows you to take off in GPS or Attitude mode (having less than 6 GPS satellites). The max climb rate is still limited to 2m/s, but the horizontal speed is increased to 6m/s. It also lets you fly 300M out and 120M high. Level 3 increases the vertical speed to 3m/s and horizontal speed to 8m/s and allows you to fly up to 600M away and 120M high. The level modes all worked as advertised in my test flights.

IOC

IOC stands for Intelligent Orientation Control and this mode is useful for those with no flight experience or as a safety backup if you fly too far away and can no longer see which way the drone is facing. In order to use IOC mode, you need to have a full GPS lock. When ready, you push the IOC button in on the transmitter. The Xiro will now respond to the control sticks based on the home position instead of the direction the front is facing. This means that no matter which way the drone is facing, when you pull back on the control stick, the Xiro will move towards the home point. It moves left and right according to the stick commands. I'd really only recommend using this mode if you get confused and don't know which way the drone is facing. You can click the IOC button and pull the stick back to bring it closer to you and regain your orientation of it. Once you do, just click the IOC button again to return to normal operation.

Return Home

Return Home is another handy feature. When you press this button in, the Xiro will fly itself back to the home point and automatically land. If the Xiro is more than 25M away and less than 20M high, it will first climb to 20M and then fly back to the home point. This is done to avoid possible obstacles that might be in the flight path. Once it lands, you can press the button again to return to normal operation.

Follow Me

The Follow Me feature is set via the application on your phone. Scroll to Follow Me and a message pops up telling you to put the Flight Mode to Level 3 in order to use Follow Me. Once you do that, you can click the Follow icon on the app and then start moving. The Xiro will follow your movements and track you. It is really following the transmitter signal, but it does a nice job of tracking it. There is also a Self-Circling icon next to the Follow icon. Click that and the Xiro will move around you in a circle while keeping the nose facing you. It makes for a really cool shot. While in Follow Me mode, there are some arrow icons. Tapping the down arrow button will move the Xiro closer to you, tapping the up arrow will move it farther away. Tapping the left and right arrows will cause the Xiro to move left and right around you in a circle.

Follow Snap

Follow Snap is really impressive. You can drag a box over an object or person on the screen and it will turn green letting you know it is ready. Then you need to hit the IOC button on the transmitter and then tap the follow icon on the screen. Now the Xiro will follow and track the object, moving with it and rotating to keep the object in the frame. It uses optical tracking technology to do this and it was impressive in my tests, but it wasn't perfect. I set it up to track my wife running around a soccer field. It followed her around, but near the end of the lap, the box turned red and it stopped tracking her as she ran out of the frame. If it loses the object like that, the Xiro just stops in place and hovers waiting for your next commands. I can see all sorts of uses for this and the technology is very cool.

Waypoint Navigation

Using the application which is discussed in more detail below, you can select up to 16 waypoints on the map. You just touch on the map where you want to put a waypoint and a little waypoint icon will be placed there. Once you've placed all the waypoints you want, you can click to upload them to the Xiro flight board and then click again to tell it to fly. It is very useful for flying a defined flight path while you control the camera pitch to get your perfect shot.

Safety Modes

The Xiro has some safety features that are worth mentioning. It starts with the battery lock, if it is not in the down position securing the battery, you will see flashing error lights on the drone and will not be able to fly. Another nice safety feature is that while in GPS mode, if the transmitter loses connection, the Xiro will return to the last position where it had a connection and attempt to reconnect to the transmitter for 15 seconds. If no connection is made after that 15 seconds, the Xiro will return to the home point. At anytime during this process, if the connection is reestablished, the Xiro will hold position and return control to the pilot.

Attitude mode is a little different. Since there is no GPS lock in Attitude mode, if the Xiro loses connection from the transmitter, it will be able to drift away. There is no GPS coordinates for it to return to so you would need to chase after it with the transmitter to try and get closer to reestablish the connection. The good news here, is that there is no manual way to enter Attitude mode. Attitude mode is only active when there is less than 6 GPS satellites acquired such as when flying indoors. So the chances of being in Attitude mode and flying far enough away to lose the transmitter connection is slim to none.

The Xiro also has a low battery warning and safety system. When the flight battery starts getting low, the transmitter will intermittently vibrate and the battery status light on the transmitter will turn red. The rear flight indicator lights on the Xiro will slowly flash red and a warning message will pop up on the app as another indicator. At this point you should bring the Xiro back and land. If you continue flying and drain the battery to a critical level then the transmitter will continuously vibrate and the rear indicator lights on the Xiro will rapidly flash red. If the Xiro is less than 100M away, it will fly back home by itself and land. If it is farther than 100M away, it will descend where it is and land there.

Xiro App

Before connecting to the app I had to first power on the transmitter and copter and then connect my iPhone's Wifi to the Xiro. Then open the Xiro application. You are greeted with a beautiful mountain range image and a Start Aerial Photography button on the bottom. Click that to connect and get to the main screen.

When it connects you'll see a live view from the camera as the main image and a small map on the bottom left. The top bar is filled with icons and a couple of menu items. The 3 dot button on the left opens up a menu to exit back to the mountain image or adjust camera settings which doesn't apply for the GoPro version. The other icons from left to right are the Wifi signal icon, Flight level mode, Flight battery percentage, Altitude in meters, Travel speed in m/s, Horizontal distance away in meters, and the Transmitter battery percentage. You can use the + symbol on the far right add or remove icons from the top bar. Other icons you can add are Flight Mode, SD Card Storage level, and Camera FOV.

On the very right hand side is a green, yellow and red vertical bar. This is a visual cue of the flight battery status. As you fly, the green bar starts to get smaller as it moves upwards, once it reaches the yellow portion, the battery is low and it is time to land, if it gets to the red bar it will trigger the critical battery level safety feature. Just to the left of the that battery status bar is the shoot mode selector. It defaults to Shoot and you can change it to Follow Me or Follow Snap mode.

There are several different views available in the app. Click the arrow icon on the bottom left to make the map larger and the FPV view box will show as a medium size on the right side. You can drag the map around in this view. Tap the icon again and the map goes away giving you the largest FPV view available. Click the icon a third time to return to the default view. You can click the map to swap positions with the FPV screen. This places the live view at the bottom left and makes the map large and brings up a new icon on the bottom right. Click it and a menu slides out to the left. The boxes icon can be used to change the map view from a standard map to a Satellite or Hybrid view. The next icon is used to set a single waypoint and the following icon is used to position multiple waypoints on the map. Just touch on the map where you want the waypoint to go. When you are ready for Xiro to fly to the waypoints, you can click the check mark icon at the bottom and a screen will pop up with the number of flight points, the length of the flight in meters and the flight speed it will travel. You can then click the upload button to send that data to the copter and then another pop up screen comes up with a cancel or fly button. Hit the fly button and it will be on its way. You can stop the flight at any time by hitting the cancel button. The next icon is the orientation lock button for the map and then a drone location icon which centers the drone position on the map view.

The application was stable during my tests with no hiccups or freezes in operation. The live view worked great with only a slight lag via the Wifi connection. I was able to fly via the screen safely and felt comfortable flying in all conditions except extremely close to objects.

Flying

Flying the Xiro is sheer joy. Having never flown one from this brand before I didn't know what to expect, but in my opinion it handles as well as the DJI Phantom. The GPS lock holds its position solidly and the altitude hold is as good as it gets. This is not really a sport machine, but rather designed for AP although you can take the gimbal off easily and fly it around for sport if you like. In flight level 3 the response is snappy, but it will always be in GPS mode. There is no way to manually select Attitude mode and there is no manual mode at all. The flight times on my tests were all between 20 and 25 minutes.

It responds to the sticks as expected with nothing surprising happening during any of my test flights. The different flight level modes should make it suitable for just about any skill level pilot out there. It would make for a great first quadcopter if you want to get into aerial photography.

Photos

Video

Conclusion

So after flying the Xiro around for awhile and seeing what it can do I have come to the conclusion that it is a great all around drone for learning to fly and capturing aerial video and photos. The quality of all the parts and the thought that went into the design work together to make you feel you get your money's worth out of the package. I rarely like transmitters provided with RTF aircraft, but this one is different. It feels good and is natural to work with. If you are looking for something different from the cookie cutter Phantoms of the world, I highly recommend you give the Xiro a serious look. I really like it and think you will too.

Hits

  • Fit and finish
  • Breaks down small to fit in a carry case
  • GPS hold and altitude hold work great
  • Many safety features make it suitable for beginners
  • Transmitter feels great and is easy to use
  • Smart battery has charge level indicator
  • Follow Me and Follow Snap with optical tracking
  • 16 waypoint navigation

Misses

  • Charger base gets extremely hot while dual charging. I recommend charging the transmitter separately.
  • No manual mode or ability to select Atti mode when in poor GPS reception areas

Links

Thread Tools
Feb 04, 2016, 12:47 PM
Dave's not here.
DaveMatthews's Avatar
Nice! More of a video platform than a sport flyer though. Love the tracking capability.
Feb 04, 2016, 03:25 PM
Hittin Gaps With D Gains
SteelRainSpo's Avatar
Great review, I had no idea that this camera platform had so many features, and a functional/compatible/easy to use app puts it over the edge. I've been eyeing this copter for quite awhile now, and it appears to have great reviews everywhere, so this review just might solidify my commitment to buy one. Now I just have to wait until you put it up for sale in the classified section
Feb 04, 2016, 03:57 PM
"Have that removed!"
KRProton's Avatar
Sorry to chime in even though I work for the exclusive distributor in the US (Hobbico). I work in R&D, but I'm not on the drone team, so my comments are from the perspective of an "outsider" with little experience in this endeavor.

I have the Xplorer V that comes with its own camera. Anyway, I am thrilled that my Xiro has been performing as advertised. In my opinion (and that of friends and family who have viewed some of the video footage I've captured), the video quality is astonishing. During instances when the drone isn't moving or rotating, you cannot detect that it's video and you think you're looking at a still image.

As a newbie in drones, it's a little unnerving when you take it to maximum altitude or activate some of the autonomous functions like automatic takeoff or automatic landing or return to home, but it always works and I'm gaining confidence in my Xiro all the time.

Here's a link to one of the first videos I captured my second or third time out. The video is too long and I'll edit some better ones with Moviemaker another time, but this illustrates a little of what can be done with it.

Xiro Xplorer video (6 min 18 sec)


Tim
Latest blog entry: Latest blog entry
Feb 04, 2016, 05:26 PM
Hittin Gaps With D Gains
SteelRainSpo's Avatar
Very nice and smooth footage, with no discernable video jello or gimbal vibrations to boot
Feb 05, 2016, 05:14 PM
RCG Admin
Jason Cole's Avatar
Thread OP
Here's a link to the RCGroups Hobbico Xiro Drone Giveaway https://www.rcgroups.com/forums/show....php?t=2597557
Feb 08, 2016, 09:02 AM
"Have that removed!"
KRProton's Avatar
Again, there are better-edited videos out there for certain, but I scrapped together some clips I had saved to my pc and added some music just to show what an amateur can do with a nice camera drone like the Xiro Xplorer (I have the version "V" with its own camera). No big deal, but maybe a little entertaining. I edited/spliced the videos in Moviemaker a program that usually comes with your pc;

Xiro Xplorer V by Tim Lampe (2 min 20 sec)


Tim
Latest blog entry: Latest blog entry
Feb 09, 2016, 03:07 PM
Registered User
Very nice and smooth footage, with no discernable video jello or gimbal vibrations to boot

I hope you are not taking about the gopro video in the review, its full of jello and prop glare.
Feb 09, 2016, 03:32 PM
Hittin Gaps With D Gains
SteelRainSpo's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by trust416
Very nice and smooth footage, with no discernable video jello or gimbal vibrations to boot

I hope you are not taking about the gopro video in the review, its full of jello and prop glare.
You are correct, I wasn't referring to the video taken with the Gopro
Feb 09, 2016, 10:08 PM
Registered User
Jimmy the Heater's Avatar
Forgive the long question but I wanted to be specific.

I'm a rancher/farmer and have been looking for an out of the box solution to do waypoints. 2 reasons for this. To search for missing cattle on the ranch and to do aerial observation of crops.

So I have a couple of specific questions. If I set a waypoint that is outside the range of the transmitter will the quad still travel to those waypoints and then come back? (provided that the last waypoint is *home*) It wouldn't bother me a bit if I didn't get live video, just need to review the vid once it gets back to me to search for any cattle.

Also does the mapping function of the app require a data signal from the cell provider? I live in the middle of nowhere with very spotty coverage. Can I download an area map that I'm going to be flying in beforehand with my home wifi and then use that once I get to my flying area?

Lastly, any way to view video through goggles? Looking for a little black speck on a cell phone screen is difficult in bright sunshine. If I have to wait til the camera is back on the ground to do this, that is fine.
Feb 10, 2016, 01:26 PM
"Have that removed!"
KRProton's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jimmy the Heater
Forgive the long question but I wanted to be specific.

I'm a rancher/farmer and have been looking for an out of the box solution to do waypoints. 2 reasons for this. To search for missing cattle on the ranch and to do aerial observation of crops.

So I have a couple of specific questions. If I set a waypoint that is outside the range of the transmitter will the quad still travel to those waypoints and then come back? (provided that the last waypoint is *home*) It wouldn't bother me a bit if I didn't get live video, just need to review the vid once it gets back to me to search for any cattle.

Also does the mapping function of the app require a data signal from the cell provider? I live in the middle of nowhere with very spotty coverage. Can I download an area map that I'm going to be flying in beforehand with my home wifi and then use that once I get to my flying area?

Lastly, any way to view video through goggles? Looking for a little black speck on a cell phone screen is difficult in bright sunshine. If I have to wait til the camera is back on the ground to do this, that is fine.
Hello Jimmy the Heater.

I donít have the expertise to answer your question, but I donít want you to go unforgotten. This thread is pretty dead, but the Multirotor Talk forum is quite active, so why donít you pose your question in another, more general thread, or start a new thread of your own in the Multirotor Talk forum or in the FPV Equipment forums? Iím sure youíll get lots of good advice.

Tim
Latest blog entry: Latest blog entry
Feb 10, 2016, 02:11 PM
Registered User
Jimmy the Heater's Avatar
Thank you, will do!
Feb 10, 2016, 02:18 PM
RCG Admin
Jason Cole's Avatar
Thread OP
I'm not positive, but I'm pretty sure if it flys out of radio range, then it triggers the failsafe and returns to the home position.
Feb 10, 2016, 05:50 PM
Suspended Account
More from Xiro.

New Products 2016 from Xiro Drone (12 min 37 sec)
Feb 10, 2016, 07:38 PM
"Have that removed!"
KRProton's Avatar
Wow! Some exciting stuff!
Last edited by KRProton; Feb 10, 2016 at 08:19 PM.


Quick Reply
Message:

Thread Tools