JYU Hornet S FPV Quadcopter
|Construction:||Impact resistant plastic shell; plastic skids/lighting diffusers; plastic propellers with machined aluminum threaded inserts|
|Total Flying Weight:||19.4 oz (550 g)|
|Dimensions (LxWxH):||9.1 x 9.1 x 2.48" (232 x 232 x 63 mm)|
|Onboard Electronics:||JYU proprietary six-channel 2.4 GHz multirotor|
|Transmitter:||JYU RD12 six-channel 2.4 GHz multirotor with gimbal pitch control, video/photo selector switch, flight mode switch, retractable FPV screen mount, FPV frequency selector buttons and built-in battery|
|Battery:||JYU 2500mAh 3S intelligent lithium polymer|
|Motors:||JYU 2204 brushless outrunner; Kv rating not specified|
|Propellers:||JYU 6030 proprietary|
|Claimed Top Speed:||75 MPH (120km/h)|
|FPV Camera:||12-megapixel CMOS; 5.8 GHz operating frequency|
|FPV Goggles:||480x240 color LCD; 16/9 aspect ratio|
|Operator Skill Level/Age:||Experienced beginner; 14+|
|Claimed Flight Duration:||20 - 25 minutes|
|Manufacturer:||Shenzhen JYU Intelligent Technology Company, Ltd., F4 106, F518, Idealand, Baoyuan Road, Baoyuan, Shenzhen, China|
|Price (USD):||$209.99 - $389.99 depending on options and warehouse with free shipping to the United States|
Sometimes, the hardest part of starting an RCGroups review is trying to figure out a clever introduction. This time, it was easy. In the YouTube video linked below, the model I'm reviewing races a Ferrari 430, admittedly with a bit of digital help. Why? The manufacturer claims a 0 - 100km/h time of three seconds against the 3.4 needed by the Ferrari. OK, so the Ferrari has a slightly faster top speed of 211 MPH (340km/h). This model isn't going to fly 200 MPH, but it's more than a third of the way there with a claimed top speed of 120km/h, or just a tick under 75 MPH.
Please give a warm RCGroups welcome for the new JYU Hornet S quadcopter from the nice folks at Banggood.com. It's an incredibly attractive package available in a variety of configurations from sport quad to camera platform to two kinds of FPV platforms. It's my privilege to review the latter which is especially exciting for me. This represents my first foray into real FPV with real FPV goggles instead of either a smartphone acting as an FPV screen or a dedicated FPV screen on an entry level quad, a screen which all too often washes out in sunlight.
The Hornet is the brainchild of Shenzhen JYU Intelligent Technology Company, Ltd., a fairly new company a little more than a decade old. I'll now take a few moments to share the results of this rather ambitious development. As of this writing, most spare parts are still in the pipeline, but I predict more will be available soon after publication.
The Hornet comes as a complete package with the following:
Needed to get started:
In typical Banggood fashion, the Hornet arrived wrapped instead of boxed for shipping, so the display box wound up with a few dinged corners as is usually the case. The box is remarkably compact, but all components manage to fit within their own boxes and into the display box with room to spare.
And what boxes they are. They all look like presentation boxes with their understated graphics on a trendy white background; think DJI. Classy looking charcoal grey foam trays with printed foam cover plates cradle every component and the inside of each lid has something I've never seen before on a model.
The lids are finished on the inside with a black velvet pad and chromed print of the JYU logo and their motto, "Discover the Possibilities." My guess is that JYU wanted to impart a feeling of upmarket quality and not only do I feel they succeeded with the packaging, they succeeded with the product.
Everything right down to the battery charger simply looks and feels a lot more expensive than it is with the lone exception of a loose motor screw rattling around in the bottom of the box holding the model. Plastic surfaces are beautifully finished in both gloss and matte white with the matching transmitter set off by soft grey rubber-textured grips. If this unit isn't the nicest feeling proprietary transmitter I've ever used, I can honestly state that it's in the top two.
That said, I came away with the very distinct impression that the model wasn't quite ready for the North American market. Virtually everything in print is in Chinese, including the instruction sheets packed with each component. The QR codes all link to Chinese language sites and the AC plug on the charger is for 220V sockets. There are English language manuals available online in PDF format and I've posted the links below:
The Hornet S itself is, in a word, beautiful. It's arguably one of the better looking RTF quads on the market, eschewing the industrial look of carbon fiber, the squarish, plain white shape of some consumer-grade aerial photography platforms and the sometimes insect-like styling of inexpensive quads. The fuselage design not only seemed to have aerodynamics in mind, it strongly resembles an inverted version of the Galileo II shuttlecraft in the original "Star Trek" TV series. (Credit goes to my wife for catching that before I did.) The arms extend roughly from midpoint of the fuselage, giving the Hornet a very definite feel of front and rear. It's an X-configured quad to be sure, but the sweeping rear arms and elegant fuselage give it an entirely different look.
An especially elegant touch is that of the snap-on cover at the nose of the model which is used to cover the FPV camera port when not in use. It's easily removed and the FPV camera just as easily installed if desired.
As great as the Hornet looks, it was now up to me to determine how well it flies.
Naturally, first things first, i.e., charging the flight battery and transmitter.
This was where I have my single biggest complaint about the Hornet. The online instructions are incredibly sparse for such a complex machine, or any machine for that matter.
Thanks to this thread by user SeByDocky, I was finally able to get the charger to operate without the charger beeping a warning and flashing a red light. The trick is to first power up the intelligent battery, plug the charger into a wall socket and then connect the charger to the battery; this simply isn't outlined in the manual. A USB output can be used at the same time to charge the transmitter with the included USB cable. Incredibly, the battery is built into the transmitter! There's no access door and no indication regarding battery chemistry. I'll assume it's lithium polymer since that's how the charger is calibrated for the flight battery. The USB jack on the charger wasn't readily apparent nor is it mentioned in the instructions. I was going to charge the transmitter with an Apple iPhone AC adapter until I noticed the jack on the charger.
Whether on or off the model, the flight battery operates the same. A tap on the button gives the level of charge via four green LEDs. All four means the battery is fully charged. Tapping the button, releasing it and then holding it down for a couple of seconds activates the battery. As the battery discharges during flight, the lights serve as a visual indicator as to how much charge is left.
As the battery charges, those green LEDs light in sequence as the battery charges. All four lights and the charger's LED glowing red to orange mean that charging is nearly complete. The LED on the charger turns to green and a alert tone sounds when charging is complete. A green LED on the transmitter means it's charged and ready, all in a little more than an hour.
That same USB cable used for charging the transmitter may also be used for updates to the model and transmitter. At the time of this writing, the download page is active once more, but the installation instructions are in Chinese. I'm assuming the software is as well and I'm listing it in the hope it will soon be up in other languages. According to the French language screenshots on the thread I linked above, it's very much like Cleanflight or Baseflight. I have both, but I wasn't about to try them.
Transparent stickers with Chinese text and QR codes abound on the model, battery and transmitter. The latter presumably warns new quadcopter pilots of the danger of switching to full manual control before one is ready since it blocks the flight mode switch until it's removed. Of course, I took it off since I wanted to see how well the Hornet flew on its own and without any aid. I'll share my experiences a bit further down the page, but I'll say ahead of time that I was incredibly impressed.
Before GPS assisted flight can be attempted, the model's compass must be calibrated. Simply put, the transmitter and model must be powered up, compass calibration mode engaged via the transmitter and - here's the fun part - the model must be held perpendicular to the ground and rotated clockwise by hand while the pilot turns in place counterclockwise. When the LEDs glow green, the compass is calibrated.
Before I did that, I wanted to see how the Hornet did on full manual control.
With the flight battery and transmitter both charged and ready, off came the sticker and on went the flight mode switch to position number three. Positions one and two are GPS- and barometer-assisted modes for beginners and intermediate users respectively once the compass is calibrated per the above method.
Arming the model in all modes requires that the Hornet first be set down from its takeoff point. Unless one is flying the version with the camera and gimbal setup, there are no landing skids. The model rests on the LED diffusers which in turn have no protection underneath. Naturally, the transmitter is first powered up followed by the model. The transmitter responds to powering up with an unexpected little vibration like that on a cellphone and the function buttons on the front of the transmitter for onboard lighting control, video/photo, return-to-home and automatic takeoff and landing illuminate. Status lights above the power switch denote battery level, GPS connection and binding status while the two buttons at the rear are used to select an FPV operating frequency if need be.
Once the propellers are installed and the model powered up, the motors must be armed by moving the throttle stick to the lower left position and holding it there for a few moments. A mysterious metal tool came packed in one of the boxes; the English instructions revealed it to be a tool for holding the motor endbells in place while the props are tightened down. As is the case with many quads today, the props have both right- and left-hand threads, so there's no danger of installing an incorrect prop on a motor.
After the motors start, the onboard LEDs flash their OK and the stick is then brought up slowly as the motors spool up. Center stick is neutral and advancing the stick beyond center brings the motors to takeoff speed. There's a safety feature whereby the motors will shut off if the stick is held in the lower right corner for more than a second or two. Since both sticks are centered, the unit can be switched between Mode 2 and Mode 1 by holding the photo and LED control buttons as the power is turned on. Two vibrations from the transmitter signify Mode 1 where it will stay unless switched back in the same manner.
In either mode, easing the throttle back to center stick and slightly beyond isn't the most linear of control methods, but it works. One should simply be aware of it.
Once in the air, the Hornet is nothing short of amazing.
The propellers are well balanced making for a quiet, vibration-free flight. As for control, it is absolutely rock solid. JYU did a superb job of balancing handling with control; it simply goes where it's pointed almost as smoothly as a simulator. Speed is certainly not an issue, although opening up the throttle out on the street in front of my house wasn't much of an option. One test I always do with a quad is to see how well it comes to a stop after a fast forward blast and I had plenty of room for that test.
Perfect. The Hornet came to a smooth, drama-free stop with no loss of control and no over-compensation by the gyros. Opening up the throttle at a large, grassy field gave credibility to the factory's claim of a top speed of 75 MPH (120km/h).
Despite the size of that field, I could only fly the Hornet with short bursts of full throttle; of all my multirotors, only my Armattan tricopter compares in terms of speed. It's a genuine screamer!
This model gets very small very quickly, but the asymmetrical arm layout coupled with the very visible LEDs underneath make orientation a snap. Only problem with the LEDs is the inability to get them to simply burn steadily; they flash in a myriad of colors depending on the setting at the transmitter. The default proved to be the best compromise for me and the LEDs can be set to the user's preference via the programming software, that is, once it becomes available once more.
Higher throttle settings naturally mean shorter flight times. The battery blinked its warning with a single green LED followed by the onboard LEDs flashing red after about six minutes, well below the 20 to 25 minutes claimed by the manufacturer. In fairness, it's a fairly standard time for a high-performance quad flown all out with a 2500mAh battery.
The red lights came on just a moment or two before I landed and the Hornet came down very quickly as a result from about a foot or two up. My advice would be to pay strict attention to the status lights on the battery and to land the model while two LEDs are still lit.
Landing is a simple as can be; the Hornet touches down beautifully with no tendency at all to bounce back into the air. Holding the throttle all the way back at center shuts off the motors after a couple of seconds.
My only regret is that I don't have more than one flight battery at this writing.
Positions one and two on the transmitter are, as mentioned, the beginner and intermediate assisted flight modes. When the transmitter and model are powered up with the model in place for takeoff, the GPS indicator on the transmitter glows green to confirm a lock on a GPS satellite. Pressing the return-to-home button on the transmitter can be pressed and held for a moment before takeoff so that the Hornet will return to that same spot for landing. A brief press of the button during flight then returns the Hornet home.
I'd discovered earlier on that powering up the system and then carrying the Hornet to another area for takeoff does a heck of a job discombobulating the gyros. It'll bob and weave almost uncontrollably; this is another omission in the manual and a darned major one.
In either mode, the auto takeoff/landing button can be used for, well, taking off and landing automatically. The feature works well; it's easily overridden with stick input. Otherwise, the Hornet will slowly climb until some stick input is added.
Another function which warrants some kudos is the return-to-home function. In either of the GPS modes, a tap of the transmitter button with the house icon literally brings the quad back to within a few inches of the takeoff point. Very nice.
Mode 1 is the beginner's mode with full control, but limited bank and pitch. Both position and altitude are held automatically, making it excellent for first-time FPV users like myself. Mode 2 adds full (or nearly full) bank and pitch while continuing to hold position and altitude.
Both modes are excellent for both new quadcopter and FPV pilots (such as myself) as well as adding tremendous stability and control for aerial photography.
Once more, the instructions were sorely lacking for the FPV goggles; there are more specifications than instructions and those instructions are just about nil.
I was somehow under the impression that they operated in a wireless fashion like Fat Shark and similar goggles, but this isn't the case. Rather, signal and power to the goggles are provided by the transmitter's "AV OUT" jack via the supplied cable. Regardless of how the goggles are powered, the fact remains that they work incredibly well.
I'm farsighted and I had no trouble whatsoever seeing the brilliantly clear display with its status displays for such things as flight battery power, GPS lock, etc. Taking it easy as a first-time FPV'er was the order of the day when weeks of windy weather had finally died down to the point where I could try the system at a nearby park.
I fired it up in flight mode 1 with the camera now in place and kept the goggles down over the bridge of my nose so that I could see the model itself. This was, in a word, fun. It wasn't long before I was comfortable enough to place the goggles on full and the model on flight mode 2 and fly - albeit slowly - via FPV only.
If anyone in our audience is wondering what the big deal is regarding FPV flight and FPV racing, one flight with a Hornet is guaranteed to convince any naysayer. Signal quality and picture quality were both excellent with no lag and only occasional and brief signal dropouts, mostly occurring at low altitude. Higher altitude far downrange had virtually no negative effect at all.
I plan to practice as much as time and weather allow; there's too much potential fun on tap not to!
Yes! In the assisted modes, the Hornet is a gentle as can be, aided greatly by the GPS. Unleashed, it becomes a blisteringly fast, eminently controllable FPV racer or sport quad.
Someone unfamiliar with multirotor flight can easily self-teach with this model. Of course, it's recommended that a completely inexperienced model aircraft pilot seek the aid of an experienced pilot, flying club and/or hobby shop.
Here am I flying the Hornet in full manual mode at a somewhat leisurely pace, although I did open up the throttle a couple of times:
|JYU Hornet S FPV Quadcopter- RCGroups (2 min 9 sec)|
Here's a dubbed factory video from a company rep doing a good job of explaining the Hornet's special features:
|JYU Hornet S HornetS Racing 5.8G FPV With Goggles & Gimbal With 12MP HD Camera GPS RC Quadcopter (10 min 25 sec)|
Of course, no review of the Hornet S would be complete without the "race" between it and the Ferrari:
|JUI Hornet S Racing 5.8G FPV With Goggles & Gimbal 12MP HD Camera RC Quadcopter (2 min 49 sec)|
Regardless of the configuration one chooses, the JYU Hornet S quadcopter is a hands-down winner in price, performance and options. The things which are keeping this model from the upper echelons of the quadcopter world include a lack of parts for now coupled with a lack of documentation, not to mention that 220V power cord. Spare parts at Banggood are limited to batteries (surprisingly affordable at just under US$50), body shells, props (thank goodness!), propeller guards (why?) and replacement LED modules. A tote bag is available for US$29.99 as well. The spare parts listing can be found here and it is my hope that the selection improves very soon. Dealer sales literature from JYU's website dated December 24, 2015 do show the FPV camera, goggles, screen and a complete gimbal setup including the camera as separate items and upgrades.
Those are glaring problems in a crowded field of competition.
Since the gimbals and landing skids aren't presently available as separate options, someone flying an FPV version who'd like to try some aerial photography is out of luck, at least for now. Programming software in English is presently unavailable. While all of the nomenclature on the model, transmitter, charger, battery and all of the info on the goggles is in English, the all-important printed documentation is in Chinese.
Despite all of the wonderful details such as overall quality, incredible flight characteristics, blazing speed, high-end looks and unique packaging, I can't help but repeat my earlier assertion that the Hornet isn't quite ready for prime time, at least not in the North American market. That isn't a comment on its quality but rather a comment on what I feel is a rush to market by JYU. In my opinion, all is not lost given the fairly well-written but sparse online docs and the fact that the product itself has English all over it. The Hornet's is a crowded market and JYU should have had their product support up and running before its release along with English language packaging and printed docs.
Since I believe the issues with parts and documentation are short term, indicated by rapid, ongoing improvements to JYU's website, the Hornet gets a solid, enthusiastic two thumbs up. It's a fantastic model by an enthusiastic new company and absolutely worth consideration regardless of ones' skill level.
My sincerest thanks go to James at Banggood.com for offering this marvelous model for review. George Muir of the Coachella Valley Radio Control Club has been my go-to guy for years when it comes to video and he does a superb job.
Jim T. Graham, Angela Haglund and Jason Cole man the admins' desk here at RCGroups on behalf of you, our audience. Thanks for visiting!
I was out flying it mostly FPV in flight mode 2 just last week. I must have gone close to ten minutes before it started getting really hot outside. I still had about a half a charge even after a few brief high speed blasts on mode 3.
This is unofficial, I know, but when the weather permits, I'll try it again and actually time the flight.
True story about the real shuttlecraft from more than thirty years ago. It was one of those unforgettable moments, believe me. Naturally, there was nothing inside save for bare plywood walls and some dangling wires, but by golly, I was standing in the real, live Galileo II!
Not long after, my brother actually had the opportunity to buy it for a few hundred bucks, but he didn't have the money. Today, he has a fantastic collection of memorabilia from the TV shows and movies and knowing him, he'd have likely built an addition to his house to store it if he had actually bought it.
Having an issue with the charger, but the JYU customer service seems to be quite responsive and friendly so far. I may follow the lead of user SeByDocky over in France and solder up a harness which will allow me to charge the battery with a standard charger.
The charger doesn't want to recognize the battery and I'm hoping they'll help with a warranty claim.
Almost forgot: The battery might have an internal short at one of the pins. The battery will in fact charge with my other charger with the harness I made, but my balancer shows zero voltage on cell one, normal on cell two and double voltage on cell three, so I can't balance while it charges. JYU is sending a new battery and charger.
Yeah, I couldn't find it anywhere either. Neither in the manual, nor in any of the Youtube videos nor on their website
Technically speaking, there is no reason it shouldn't have it because it's a software feature and all the hardware support (GPS , compass etc.) is already there, even then it is not a small feature to be easily forgotten to be mentioned by the vendor
BTW what's the farthest you have flown so far?
Seems there's a lot of stuff not mentioned given the comparative lack of documentation...
In full manual mode, this little screamer gets really small really quickly. I've had it out maybe a couple of hundred yards at most since it becomes difficult to keep oriented. Haven't checked via the FPV, but that should prove to be fun.
Finally got a reply from JYU.
"Drone will return to home when remote controller lost contact with quadcopter 10 seconds under 1 or 2 mode if battery electric quantity is enough to return, but it is on condition that GPS signals is normal. If GPS signal loss, quadcopter will natural landed."
I liked the detailed and more truthful reply mentioning GPS and battery etc. rather than saying something like "yes it will RTH on going out of range".