Tovsto Aegean v2 - full review / mods / owners' thread - RC Groups
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Sep 29, 2016, 07:32 AM
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Tovsto Aegean v2 - full review / mods / owners' thread


Hey guys, I've done a lot of FPV plane reviews up until now, but this will be my first copter review, so don't be too harsh on me if I don't do everything right.

I am making this thread so we can keep all of the info and mods of this copter in one place for people to find and use. I will start with my review and my mods, and I would appreciate if other share as well.

I got the Tovsto Aegean v2 from GearBest, really thought the price and the advertised features were quite right, and I've been wanting to get something like this for some time now, so the Aegean was a good option.

You can also find all of the information as well as a detailed parts list in my blog: ArxangelRC.blogspot.com

I've been wanting to get a small copter for my GoPro camera that I can easily carry around with me, but one which also will not put a giant hole in my wallet! I tried to build a few, but there were the ever present issues with excessive vibrations, unreliable electronics, components, connections, hanging wires, and the otherwise ugly mess of things when you assemble something yourself! I can always go with a DJI, but there is something about their Apple like approach to copters that I find disturbing and distasteful, so I try to stay away from them.

Then I saw the Tovsto Aegean v2 over at GearBest and it looked too good of an opportunity to miss, especially at that price. And I am glad I was not wrong - except for a few minor vibration issues which were sorted out quickly, the Tovsto has been a solid performer and a very nice flyer, which I would recommend to anyone looking for such a drone on a budget, or just doesn't want to spend a lot of money on one!

Tovsto Aegean v2 - review, maiden and modifications (21 min 53 sec)


A little family time with the Aegean v2! (3 min 52 sec)


Tovsto Aegean v2 - conquering the mountain (2 min 36 sec)



SPECIFICATIONS

Motor centre to motor centre (diagonally): 356mm
Dimensions: 29cm x 29cm x 17.5cm
Flying weight: 800g according manufacturer (1090g with a 2-axis GoPro gimbal, the GoPro, and a 200mW Vtx)
Radio range: about 570m


ARRIVAL STATE

Shipping was very quick, copter arrived via DHL in 3 days, and it was in pristine condition. It arrives in this box:



Only when it arrived this box was assembled inside-out, so that the colours and graphics are not scratched and ruined by the courier. Took me a minute to assemble it back as it should be, and it does provide a very handy case for carrying the Aegean v2 around. As a matter of fact, the box and the organizer inside are almost identical to the ones used for the DJI Phantom 3.

The box was not damaged in any way, and neither was the copter or any of its parts and accessories. Overall very happy with the shipping service and the arrival state of the drone.


WHAT I LIKE

Right from the start its the box! Just have to love that graphic rich convenient carrying box for the drone, and you can store tons of batteries in there with it! I've been able to fit 6 batteries in there, and I certain I can find a place for more.

Next I would have to say I really like the self tightening props. Until relatively recently most such models either had friction fitted props, or they used regular collet type adapters which were a pain to install and ran the risk of coming undone during flight. Also the motors (2212 920Kv) and props (94x50) are the same type and size as those on the DJI Phantom 2 and 3, so you should be able to easily upgrade the motors if need be, and spare props are very easy and cheap to find.






And again in relation to the motors and props, two of the props have black centre hubs on them, and the motors they should be mounted on have a black dot on top of the shaft to indicate that this is where the black hub props should go. This makes it very easy for everyone to know where each prop goes, and reduces deployment time when you are assembling the drone.



Another thing that I found pleasing was the size of the battery compartment. It is about 2-3cm longer than that on a Phantom 2 for instance, which allows you to use larger batteries without having to modify the compartment, cut openings or other modifications. I was able to stuff in there a pack as big as 3000mAh, so that also means more flight time.

In addition, the bottom of the frame has mounting spots with metal threads case into the frame, which makes it quite easy and fast to mount stuff there and not have to modify the frame. Also, along with the mounting holes there is a sticker with a pre-flight checklist, which will be quite useful for those of you who are new to drones and are not sure in what order to get their drone flying, and how to greatly reduce the risks of an accident.



The supplied camera mount is a quick way to get into aerial video making and photography, and provides a convenient and light way to mount a large variety of cameras with the general GoPro form factor.



The drone comes supplied with an XT60 connector for the battery, which is the most popular type of connector and it should be very easy to just buy more batteries for this and just plug them in, rather than have to change connectors.

Also, the battery is of the quite popular 3S 2200mAh LiPo variety, and those are cheap as beans, which means that adding to your flight time will not break the bank! The battery compartment comes lined with foam to provide a nice soft bed for the battery, and possibly to prevent any damage in the event of a crash.





Another great feature are the LED lights on the bottom of the arms. Front and rear LEDs are of different colour, making it easy for the pilot to know where the front of the drone is during flight, and also makes it very easy to find it in the sky should you decide to go flying in the night.

The LEDs will start blinking and an alarm will beep when the drone's battery is getting low and its time to land.



In the RC hobby community it is common knowledge that ESCs, motors and batteries create a lot of interference, and compass modules should be placed as far away from them as possible. I was pleasantly surprised to find the compass module on the Aegean v2 mounted on the bottom of the leg, which is about the farthest point you can mount it from those interference sources. That is a very good spot to place it, and probably helps with the fact that you don't have to calibrate any compasses before you fly the drone.



The receiver antenna was also not left inside the fuselage, but rather runs down one of the legs of the drone and again as far from interference sources as possible, ensuring maximum range out of your system.



Another great feature are the provided connectors for gimbal power and control on the bottom of the frame. The black connector will connect to the gimbal pitch control, and the red one will provide power for the gimbal. This is very convenient as it means you will not have to open up the case to solder wires and get signal for the gimbal control, which makes things even easier for those who are new to this.



There is an indicator LED on the back of the drone. The manual explains what all of the sequences of blinking mean, but in short it is a convenient way to know what is happening with the drone, the GPS signal, the compass, etc., without having to connect it to a computer.



One of the great surprises about this drone was actually the GPS unit. When I connected it to my computer I noticed that it was locking 19-20 satellites, which means that it is a GLONASS enabled unit, possibly a U-blox NEO-8. I did not expect a GPS unit of this sort on a drone that cheap!



Now we finally get to the controller. It is quite easy to understand with clearly marked knobs, buttons and switches, and a noticeable lack of clutter on it. Very nice and clean design, but on the other hand has everything you need to be able to fully operate your Aegean v2.





What's even better, it operates on standard AA dry cells, so you don't have to keep a special battery for it and make sure its always charged, you can just run to the nearest store and buy 4x AA batteries, and be on your way.

And since we are looking at the back of the radio, it is worth mentioning that the radio handle also doubles as a stand, which is pretty neat.



The most sought after feature in these drones, the Return-to-Home (RTH) function, can be engaged or disengaged via the big round button with the icon of a house on it, right in the centre of the radio.

Press once to engage the Return-to-Home mode...



... and press a second time to disengage the Return-to-Home mode.



You would be glad to know that this mode works very well. You can also cause a RTH action if you turn off the radio while flying, if the radio runs out of power, or if the drones gets out of range of the radio signal.

WARNING: Keep in mind that no matter how RTH is engaged, the drone will return to the TAKE OFF location and will land. Please make sure you power the drone and take off away from buildings, people, cars, trees, or any other thing that could cause an issue and/or get in the way of the drone doing a RTH.

If you notice the labelling to the left of the RTH button on the photo above, this tells you how to ARM, or in other words how to activate the drone so you can take off. Hold the left stick to the bottom and to the far right for 4-5 seconds, then release. The indicator LED on the back of the drone will blink rapidly and the motors will start to spin at idle speed, indicating that the drone is armed and ready for take off. You will have 4 seconds to take off, otherwise the drone will disarm automatically, and you will have to repeat the above procedure to arm it again.

The power button is easily recognisable at the bottom right corner, but opposite that in the top left corner we have a nice and conveniently placed knob, which can be used to control a camera gimbal's pitch angle, once such a gimbal is mounted on the drone. The knob's location makes it very easy to turn even when flying with both hands busy on the sticks.



At the top right corner is the modes switch. You have 3 modes to choose from, everything is labelled nicely so you would know exactly what you're doing.




WHAT I DON'T LIKE

I would like to say that the Aegean v2 is absolutely perfect and be done with this section, but as with most things... this one isn't quite there yet!

To start off this section I will turn your attention to a very important detail - the labeling on the flight modes' switch is WRONG!

I guess the change in the modes was made after these were already manufactured, so they could have at least put a note or something with the manual! In reality I agree with the change - you don't really need a "Smart orientation mode" when you have RTH.

And here are the correct modes - mode 1 is the same, this is the mode in which you can take off, mode 2 is actually Altitude Hold, and when switching to this mode you should centre the left control stick (this will make the drone hold altitude, if you move the stick up it will gain altitude, and if you move it down it will descent, when you return it to centre it will hold altitude), and finally mode 3 is actually the GPS Position Hold Mode, where the drone will maintain altitude AND GPS position, so that left control stick should stay in the centre for this mode as well.

This is important information so please make a note of it somewhere and keep it in mind... or even tape a piece of paper with the updated modes next to the switch!



Next thing I am not particularly a fan of is the colour! WHY did it have to be black?? I know this is as close a copy of the Phantom 2 as I've ever seen, but black tends to heat up quite a bit more in the summer sun! They could have made it yellow, or light grey, or blue... or orange! Anyway, I guess the cooling openings will provide sufficient airflow for the internals and will just have to get used to it.

Moving on, the mounting holes on the bottom of the drone do fit the supplied camera mount rather nicely, but are not directly compatible with most of the existing brushless gimbals out there, and at the time of writing of this review there is still no gimbal from Tovsto that is supposed to fit the Aegean v2. One can add any other gimbal, but that will involve a little DIY work.



Next on my list of complaints is the compass. Out of the box this copter does not need to have the compass calibrated in order for you to fly it and use all of its features, which I personally found very strange, but the fact of the matter is that it worked as advertised. The problem came when I installed a video transmitter, at which point the compass went nuts and I did have to do that calibration, so I assume Tovsto wrote the manual with the idea that people are only going to attach a gimbal to the drone, but not a video transmitter or some other source of interference that could affect the compass.

I connected the drone to my computer and calibrated the compass, so all is good, but keep this in mind that at some point you will need to calibrate it if you are planning on adding a video transmitter.



My last complaint has to do with some vibrations! I've seen other reviews of this model from other people and their out of the box footage with the supplied camera mount was vibration free! It is a little annoying that somebody will get nice and balanced props and motors, and I will not, but at least it will give me a chance to tell you what to do if this happens to you.

I did have to balance the props and motors, but at the end I was able to get rid of the vibrations in the video.






THE VERDICT


Right, so the Aegean v2 has some small issues, but at that price I did expect things to be worse, but in fact I got much more than I expected, and among other things I am referring to the GLONASS GPS unit as well as the conveniently provided power supply and signal for a brushless gimbal!

The self-tightening props are easy and quick to install and remove, unless you put a video transmitter on board the drone works nicely out of the box without the need for any additional calibrations, and as long as you are aware that the flight modes printed on the radio are wrong things should be quite good!

Just in case you run into vibration problems like I did, a self-tightening prop balancing rod like THIS one (if you are in the US) or THIS one (if you are in Europe) will definitely help in this situation and it doesn't cost a whole lot of money.

Flight times are around what is advertised if you don't put any additional weight on the drone, but with a camera mounted you will get between 11 and 12 mins, if you add a video transmitter and a brushless gimbal flight time will drop to around 8-9 mins, but on the other hand batteries for this drone are cheap and can be bought by the dozens.

Overall I would say that this one is definitely worth its price, and with a little work and very little additional gear it can become a really nice aerial platform for your camera that will serve you well and long. I know I will put some work into mine with the hope of getting it to its true potential and will update my progress here for those interested.

Meanwhile, here is my video review of the Aegean v2, enjoy.

Tovsto Aegean v2 - review, maiden and modifications (21 min 53 sec)


Continues in next post...
Last edited by Arxangel; Oct 07, 2016 at 09:06 AM.
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Sep 29, 2016, 07:32 AM
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...continued from previous post

MODIFICATIONS


Immediately after the maiden flight I went on to balance the props and the motors. I do not yet a self-tightening prop balancing rod (waiting for it to arrive still), so I had to use my regular prop balancer with some adapters to fit these props. I also opened the frame so I would have better access to the motors and be able to balance them as well. Check out THIS video if you are not sure how to balance a motor.

So, you can see the tape on one side of the props here:



And also the tape on the side of the motor. I took a photo of only one, but I had to balance all 4 of them.



Next I decided I wanted to mount a brushless gimbal for that perfect stabilized video that everyone is looking for. I had a FeiYu Tech 2D Mini gimbal laying around, and some of its mounting holes matched the ones on the bottom of the drone, however with the gimbal mounted it was not able to open the battery hatch, so I had to improvise!



I took some measurements and quickly 3D printed an adapter plate for the gimbal.



Actually this plate will double as the gimbal top plane, and the dampeners will go into it rather than having the gimbal top plate mount to this one and complicating things even further.



I installed the dampeners on the printed plate before I mounted it to the drone.



And with very little effort I also mounted the gimbal itself.



The gimbal came with the appropriate power plug that was provided for on the Aegean v2, so powering it was as easy as plugging it in.



And I was also happy to discover that I had more than enough clearance below the gimbal to the ground.



Looks good, doesn't it? And just in case you are wandering what are those washers on the side of the gimbal... they are for balance. The gimbal was hanging a little to the other side, so I added a few washers to even things out.





Now that the vibrations were gone and the gimbal was doing a marvellous job of stabilising the camera for that really nice video, I actually decided that I wanted to take a closer look at that flight controller in there and see exactly how power is being provided for the gimbal, so I opened up the case again.

And this time around I took photos. Everything looks nicely assembled in there, not unlike the inside of DJI's Phantom 1 and 2 models.

If you take a look at the green board on top of which everything is mounted, this is the power distribution board (PDB) - it takes power from the battery and powers the flight controller, and also distributes it to the ESCs, which in turn run the motors. The interesting thing here is that actually the PDB, and not the flight controller, has a voltage sensor on it, so when it detects that your battery is running low it starts sounding an alarm and gives a signal to the LEDs to blink to let you know that it is time to land.



Upon a closer look it turns out that this flight controller is an APM, and having used APM flight controllers for the last 5-6 years I have a lot of compatible gear laying around, so I decided I might as well add a telemetry unit, so I can have a wireless connection to my laptop.



Since this controller uses the standard APM connectors (1.25mm Micro JST) and I only had some of the micro telemetry units that use a different connector I had to solder together a cable so that I can connect it. The effort was worth it though because the telemetry now works like a charm, and it also allowed me to quickly and easily calibrate the compass when the need arose.



I wires the telemetry cable through one of the openings at the bottom of the frame and mounted the unit on one of the legs.



Looking at the radio receiver, I have no idea what make that is or what protocol it is using, but it manages to get the job done with its 6 channels. Good thing is this can easily be replaced with something goes wrong or you just want better radio control range.



You can see the signal cable that is running from the receiver to the bottom of the frame. This is the one that is used to control the gimbal pitch axis.



The ESCs sadly have no information visible on them, so I am not sure what are their specifications and whether they will be able to run 4S, should I decide to do an upgrade in the future.



And finally we come to what I was looking for. If you notice the thinner red and black wires coming from the solder pads of the thick ones, those are the ones that provide power for the gimbal underneath the frame. Apparently they are directly connected to the flight battery without any filtering and even though the gimbal has some filtering and did work fine this way, the video transmitter will see some interference from the motors and ESCs, and the video signal will get ruined!



So what I did was to solder in an LC filter on that power line, so that power reaching my gimbal and video transmitter is clean and I will receive some nice video on the ground.



At last, as I was putting the frame back together I noticed that one of the bolts on one of the motors was a little loose, so I made sure to re-tighten all of them just to make sure all is good.



So, now that the power supply was filtered, I combined the gimbal and video transmitter power wires into one connector so I can power them more easily from the same place, and also connected the gimbal pitch control to the provided connector. Since the copter is powered from the same battery and there is a common ground, I connected only the signal cable from the gimbal. Works like a charm.

The printed adapter plate for the gimbal actually provided a nice location to tie any cables to and clean up things a bit.



All that was left to do was to connect the video signal from the camera to the video transmitter, and all the mods at this time were complete, and the Aegean v2 became a much better platform for it!







I should definitely find a better way to mount this video transmitter!















I really love the fact that I can tinker and fiddle with it, make mods and upgrades! At the end of the day this drone is turning out great to be honest, but I still might be able to do a few more mods to make it even better, so stay tuned!
Sep 29, 2016, 01:07 PM
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Arxangel's Avatar
Reserved!
Sep 29, 2016, 11:59 PM
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Saragb's Avatar
Great!
Sep 30, 2016, 12:02 AM
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Arxangel's Avatar
Here is another video from last weekend's family outing.

A little family time with the Aegean v2! (3 min 52 sec)
Sep 30, 2016, 12:59 PM
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Pixelpeter's Avatar
There's no need for emi shielding of the GPS unit?
Sep 30, 2016, 01:45 PM
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Arxangel's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pixelpeter
There's no need for emi shielding of the GPS unit?
Not necessary at this point. The compass is all the way on the bottom of the landing gear, and usually shielding is applied to protect the compass, not so much the GPS unit.

When I connect it to my laptop the Aegean is seeing 19-20 satellites, so I think the GPS is just fine where it is even without the shielding.
Oct 06, 2016, 09:30 AM
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Arxangel's Avatar
Hi guys, had some great fun with this copter over the last weekend, so here is the first video, later will come and a very nice mod that I did!

Tovsto Aegean v2 - chasing planes and having fun! (1 min 53 sec)
Oct 07, 2016, 09:08 AM
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Here is the family trip to the top of the Rila mountain in Bulgaria over the last weekend. The Aegean v2 performed very well at the altitude of 2500-2600m ASL.

I will leave the video speak for itself.

Tovsto Aegean v2 - conquering the mountain (2 min 36 sec)
Oct 08, 2016, 04:13 AM
Leo
Nice
Oct 08, 2016, 02:33 PM
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SeByDocKy's Avatar
Super detailed review .... Nice house you have
Latest blog entry: Youbi XV-130 130MM FPV Racer
Oct 08, 2016, 02:52 PM
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Arxangel's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by SeByDocKy
Super detailed review .... Nice house you have
Thanks, but the house is a friend's, not mine! We went there for lunch, and I took the Tovsto with me to get some testing done while we were waiting for the meat to cook.
Oct 12, 2016, 08:57 AM
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Arxangel's Avatar
Hey guys, you might remember that during my review the copter was able to get out to around 560 meters before failsafe kicked in! This seemed too short of a distance, so following a simple antenna adjustment, I was able to triple that distance!

You can see the whole mod with photos in my BLOG.

Tovsto Aegean v2 - how to increase the radio range x3 times! (4 min 27 sec)
Last edited by Arxangel; Oct 12, 2016 at 09:49 AM.
Oct 14, 2016, 03:33 AM
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Arxangel's Avatar
Hey guys... now some bad news... the Aegean has been stolen after the battery disconnected in flight!

Tovsto Aegean v2 - lost (stolen) in action... (6 min 0 sec)
Oct 14, 2016, 01:02 PM
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Pixelpeter's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Arxangel
Hey guys... now some bad news... the Aegean has been stolen after the battery disconnected in flight!

https://youtu.be/qLT9JqhhYgY
So sorry to hear that! What a bummer! You're absolutely sure you were a the right spot where your quad went down, as I've found out that it's often further or not as far as you think is was. If it was, I'm quite sure who ever took it recognised the GoPro and took it because of that. Disconnecting battery during flight is a total nightmare!!!