Thread Tools
This thread is privately moderated by DismayingObservation, who may elect to delete unwanted replies.
Dec 19, 2016, 04:46 PM
Pronoun trouble...
DismayingObservation's Avatar
Thread OP
Discussion

Syma X5UW RTF Quadcopter with 720P Camera from Lightake.com


Syma X5UW RTF Quadcopter with 720P Camera from Lightake.com (2 min 45 sec)


Whenever I’ve been offered the opportunity to review a Syma quadcopter, I’ve always taken it and for good reasons. The brand simply makes some of the best flying entry level RTF quads available at very affordable prices.

So, when Lightake.com offered up the model I’m about to review, I couldn’t help but say yes.

I’m very glad that I did.

Up for review is the brand new Syma X5UW RTF quadcopter with a 720P camera boasting both onboard audio and video recorded onto the supplied 4GB micro SD card and/or via a Wi-Fi link to any smartphone. A lot of features including barometric altitude hold and automatic takeoff and landing are packed into a model which sells for $83.75 ready to go.

It’s available here.

Contents

As with all Syma quads, the X5UW is a complete package with the following:
• Fully assembled model with six-axis gyro
• Four-channel 2.4GHz radio
• 500mAh 3.7V lithium polymer battery
• USB charger
• Spare propellers
• Propeller guards
• 720P camera
• 4GB micro SD card and USB reader
• Smartphone retaining clip
• Phillips screwdriver
• Illustrated instruction manual

Needed for operation:
• Four AA-cell alkaline batteries for the transmitter

Syma does a great job on their packaging not only in the looks department but in how securely everything comes shipped in the display box.
What comes in that box is a very colorful and attractive model done up in candy apple red chrome plating with white props, white skids, chrome accents and a matching camera. The transmitter is the opposite with a white case accented by red chrome. Either way, this is a good-looking setup with a “retro future” look.

The X5UW is built around a modular concept for repair as well as for installation of the accessories. A plate on the rear of the transmitter hides the socket for the smartphone clip when the clip isn’t in use while the prop guards snap into place. The camera follows the same theory with a camlock mounting turret. Once it’s plugged into the X5UW, the camera locks in place with a twist. Such a solid mount results in vibration; more on that in a bit.

Modular as well is the battery in its proprietary housing. It’s a standard looking 500mAh 3.7V li-po, but it’s enclosed in a housing specifically designed for the X5UW. The electrical connection looks like a standard two-pin JST connector, but it’s unlike any I’d ever seen before. That makes it difficult to charge it with anything other than the supplied USB charger. At the time of this writing, Lightake doesn’t sell spare batteries or parts, but a quick online search turns up a lot of sources. The battery sells for an average of around $6 and the chargers for roughly half of that.

QR codes on the rear cover of the manual allow the free FPV/smartphone control software to be downloaded. A Wi-Fi signal allows clear, crisp images to be sent back to the phone with relatively little lag. Virtual controls also allow the X5UW to be flown via a smartphone as well as adding additional easy-to-use camera controls.

Flying

Arming the X5UW is simple. With the transmitter powered up, a press on the model’s power switch turns it on. Moving the throttle from full to zero and back to center stick arms the system, confirmed by a beep and the steady glow of the onboard LEDs.

There are no trim tabs. Rather, trim is accomplished by pressing down on the left stick. Holding the stick down while powering up the transmitter clears the trim settings. Mine needed no help in that department; it flew fine from the get-go and it can be easily adjusted later if need be.

The right stick has the additional functions of both flight and headless modes. A brief press on the stick switches between high and low control rates while a three-second press engages the headless mode. That can be toggled on and off at the pilot’s command in flight. Atop the transmitter are unmarked buttons for photo, video, flip and automatic takeoff/landing.

Viewed from the top of the transmitter, the auto takeoff in in the lower right corner. That starts the motors in idle. Advancing the throttle smoothly lifts the X5UW from the ground and it will continue to climb until it’s throttled back.

Once it was airborne on its indoor maiden flight, the bright red quadcopter proved to be an absolute joy to fly. As previously mentioned, Syma does an outstanding job of tuning their models for smooth, controllable performance and the X5UW follows in that tradition. Installation of the camera makes a difference; the model’s light weight results in slightly twitchy throttle response without it. I’m no fan of propeller guards, but the easily installed and removed guards made no noticeable difference in the flight characteristics.

Outdoors on high rates, the X5UW proved itself to be a fast and maneuverable little machine. In short, it’s a heck of a lot of fun. Automatic flips are fast and clean with the altitude hold keeping it from dropping. In fact, it loses almost no altitude, although I wish the altitude hold could be switched off if desired.

A test of the video function once I’d formatted the card was a success. Here was sharp, detailed video with excellent color saturation and hue, but with more than a hint of vibration. The location of the photo button on the top left rear of the transmitter places it in an excellent position for rapid exposures. That's clearly what the factory did during assembly and testing; there were stills and a video about two seconds long on the SD card! I've shared some in the photo gallery.

That vibration was a real disappointment and is clearly visible in my demo video. I have other Syma quads and they’re almost vibration free despite their geared drive systems.

Another test was that of the headless mode. Like prop guards, headless mode does not excite me. In this case, it worked flawlessly. I oriented the model per the instructions, fired it up in the normal manner and engaged the function with a long press of the right stick. The loud beeps from the transmitter confirmed that I was in fact about to fly in headless mode.

The model still has yaw control in that mode, but no matter which way it’s turned, it responds in the direction of the right stick. It’s not the sort of thing one might use daily and it’s a poor basic training aid in my opinion. What it does do well is to allow some interesting photo and video opportunities, i.e., a flyby shot keeping the subject in frame the entire time. That’s the sort of feature one will find to be incredibly useful when flying more advanced camera platforms.

I’ve flown countless small quads, some great, some not so great. The X5UW is firmly in the former category!

Flying Via Wi-Fi

I must admit, this is a rather unique experience. Though it wasn’t my first time flying with a “virtual transmitter,” I’ve done so very few times and it was no less entertaining when I tried it with the X5UW via an Apple iPhone 6+.

The camera generates an easily identifiable Wi-Fi signal once the model is powered up with the transmitter switched off and the phone or tablet connected to the Wi-Fi. It takes a few seconds for the model and the phone to establish contact once the app is opened, but once they do, the screen comes alive with a crystal clear, 720P high definition picture overlaid with the flight controls. The flight controls can be toggled on and off for use of the mobile device as an FPV monitor with transmitter control.

The motors are started in much the same way as with the transmitter and the model lifts off in the same manner with the left “stick.” In a word, weird! It wasn’t difficult to control, just…weird. Mechanical sticks impart a false “feel” of any model, but flying with an iPhone had no feel whatsoever. Should one want to try something incredibly strange, one can trace a flight path on the phone or tablet screen which the X5UW will then follow! My recommendation is to attempt this neat little feature in a wide-open space.

I realized before long that I had a big smile on my face while manually controlling this little quad from my phone.

One should be careful after landing since the motors don’t stop automatically. It simply takes a tap of the virtual on/off switch to shut them down.
The Wi-Fi control is a bit of a gimmicky feature, but one which is fun and, well, did I say weird?

Conclusion

It seems that each new offering from this company just gets better and better. The Syma X5UW from Lightake.com is just such an example. My gripes are minimal and are mostly centered around the usual machine translated Chinese in the manual, the proprietary battery and perhaps the fact that the brand, though popular, isn’t a fixture in most local hobby shops. It’s still a very new model and Lightake doesn’t yet stock parts as of this writing, but I predict that will change soon and as I mentioned earlier, parts are available via other sources.

Two thumbs up! I’ll soon be investing in another battery or two along with another charger.

Many thanks to the crew at Lightake.com for offering this cool little quad for review.

Pluses and Minuses

Pluses include:
• Affordably priced
• Excellent flight characteristics
• Excellent camera
• Parts are readily available from several sources
• The Wi-Fi mode adds a fun and unusual method of flight control
• Modular construction makes repairs easy
• Attractively styled and looks great in the air
• Well deserving of a place on any budding pilot’s short list

Minuses include:
• Lots of vibration on the video
• Proprietary battery specific to this model
• Poorly translated manual
Last edited by DismayingObservation; Dec 20, 2016 at 12:53 AM.
Sign up now
to remove ads between posts
Jan 03, 2017, 07:00 AM
R/C Superfan
aben71's Avatar
Good one,this is a nice flyer for sure,I could do without the wifi fpv but I put a little aio fpv camera on mine and it is a joy to fly
Jan 05, 2017, 07:07 PM
Pronoun trouble...
DismayingObservation's Avatar
Thread OP
It certainly is a nice little machine and I'm going to look for additional batteries at the AMA expo. I may experiment with a different camera as well since that was my single biggest disappointment. Either that or I'll experiment with some sort of shock absorption for the supplied camera. I was amazed that a Syma quad would have as much Jello Effect as this one has.

Thanks again for the kind words.
May 10, 2017, 09:29 AM
Registered User
Hi! I have one questions - how do you adjust yaw trim with this controller? Its sims to imposible, when you press left stick, you cannot tilt it to the sides without unclick, lol. How?! Othervise great quad.


Quick Reply
Message:
Thread Tools