Furibee DarkMax 220 - The Ultimate Furibee 2xx size? (review, work in progress) - RC Groups
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Sep 25, 2017, 09:50 AM
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Mini-Review

Furibee DarkMax 220 - The Ultimate Furibee 2xx size? (review, work in progress)


Another model in the current "wave" of new Furibee products in the 2xx size range. Quite different from the high tech looking X215 Pro, this one lives up to it's name, dark, and mysterious. Does it pay to turn to "the dark side" or is it better to stay in the light?



Disclaimer: I don't get paid, or in any other way make money with reviews like these. Product specifications and quality may vary at the manufacturer's discretion, and are beyond my influence. I cannot guarantee you will get a product that performs exactly the same as seen and described in this review. There is always room for a general discussion on the reviewed item, feel free to comment, but if you are planning to add a long review, instead of some summarizing remarks, it would be appreciated to put these in a new review topic or on your RCG blog page. And please, no affiliate links!

Note: When clicking a link that is posted in this review, some text or numbers might be added to the link, making it appear to be an affiliate link. However, all links I post in the review are clean, and this addition is done automatically by your browser and forum software, so sadly beyond my influence. If you don’t want this to happen, copy the link, then paste in an address line of a fresh browser window/tab.



Update:

Newer versions of this quad are shipped with BetaFlight 3.2.x firmware. It could be this makes it fly different than the slightly older 3.1.7 version that my review sample came with. Although comparing reports on it's flying performance seem to indicate it's still comparably smooth and agile at the same time.



Note
- Flight Controller Issues
: It seems one or more batches of DM220 is affected with issues caused by a new version of the flight controller. Like the quad suddenly dropping down, or more or less freaking out. This might only show on 4S or higher voltage batteries. If you have issues, mail your ordernumber to Anny@gearbest.com as she has promised to arrange a new flight controller to be sent.

As there seems to be some confusion on what FC is giving issues, and what to replace it with, here's an overview, courtesy of JohnCC, providing the links:

Square Buzzer Stack, giving issues: https://www.gearbest.com/esc/pp_1025750.html
Round Buzzer FC, ok: https://www.gearbest.com/flight-cont...p_1025770.html
Round Buzzer Stack, ok: https://www.gearbest.com/flight-cont...p_1025640.html

The version of the flight controller that has been reported to work fine, can also be found here, for 40 dollars, including shipping:

http://www.myrcmart.com/omnibus-f4-p...r-p-11553.html


Basically all you need to replace is the FC, even when Gearbest sends you a complete stack, there is no need to swap out the ESC board as well. Replacing the FC only requires no soldering, all connections are made with plugs. Here's a report from someone who had the aforementioned issues, replaced the board with a 1.0 version and didn't have any issues since then: https://www.rcgroups.com/forums/show...&postcount=381

Here's a nice video that RCG member JohnCC made, demonstrating the issue, and how to perform the board swap:
Furibee DarkMax 220 - Death rolls? Motors stopping? Fix it! (21 min 17 sec)



If you have these issues but maybe want a different solution than replacing the FC yourself, it still might be an idea to mail Anny as well, as it's more direct communication than the ticket system.


Update 22 january 2018

Anny asked me to share this info:

- Because Anny can't deal with all the e-mails in time, we will ask from our CS @mingy to check and deal with every day.
- All request, pls add the info to this CS sheet.
- https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets...gid=2070836713


Update 29 january 2018:


Reports are coming in of a 3rd FC board for the DM220. This new board looks like the "round buzzer board", that the first batch(es) of the DM220 were shipped with, and which has been tested to be stable up till 6S batteries. This new board is fitted with a square buzzer, just like the board that was fitted to later batches of the DM220, and is only working on 3S. Whether this new board makes the DM220 again capable of flying reliably on 4S and maybe higher voltages, is currently being tested. First impresssions are that this latest board works ok on 4S.

To help keep track of the different board versions, here are some images that a few other helpful RCG members provided:

Board #1 aka the "Round Buzzer Board". This is the board that was fitted to the first batches of the DarkMax 220, proven to work even up to 6S. It has markings "F4_VTX Plus":






Board #2 aka the "Square Buzzer Board". Only works on 3S, will fail on higher voltages, maybe with a few exceptions here and here. This board is marked "F4PLUS V1.0" and also has the word "AURORA" printed on the top:






Board #3 which could be called the "New Square Buzzer Board". It is similar to Board #1 but not identical. It bears the markings "F4_VTX" and "PLUS V2":





This new board has the same SKU (unique product identifier that the webshop uses) as the round buzzer board, 232082901



Update 21 february 2018:

Some reports about people getting the Aurora board, aka "board #2" working reliably on 4S by changing ESC settings. This post contains some info: https://www.rcgroups.com/forums/show...postcount=1734

This possible solution has not been widely tested yet, use at your own risk and when trying this fix/workaround, always keep an eye on everyone's safety!


Another workaround/fix for some has been to install a large Low ESR capacitator to the battery wire terminals, to reduce electrics noise. Some claim it has fully fixed the dropping issues, but others have tried this, and still occasionally have the issue occurring, but less often than before.




Update 20 march 2018:


It appears that a 4th possible option FC to come fitted to the DM220 has appeared. A slightly modified version of the AuroraRC board. Still awaiting reports about it's stability on 4S or higher voltage batteries. This "Board #4" looks a lot like the first AuroraRC board, but has the characters AR printed on it as well.






Review starts here:



For easy navigation, here's a list of contents:

1: Specifications (posting #1)
2: Unboxing (posting #1)
3: Transmitter/Preparing for 1st Flight (posting #1)
4: Flying Performance (posting #1)
5: Preliminary Verdict (posting #1)
6: Suitable for a Beginner? (posting #1)
7: Camera & FPV Performance (posting #2)
8: Additional Tuning, Modifications & Other Info (posting #2)
9: Suggestions for Improvements (posting #2)




1 - Specifications:


First, let's start with a picture and a link:



https://www.gearbest.com/brushless-f...pp_765189.html



2 - Unboxing:

Much to my surprise, and very unusual for shipments from Gearbest, the box of the DarkMax arrived with some damage.




The contents were still ok, but normally samples arrive in an extra box, so the item's box always emerged in pristine shape. Much of the contents remind me of the BFight 210, GemFan props, the quad in 2 bubble wrap bags, it felt very similar.




Btw, when you look at the motors and included prop nuts, you will find that all 4 motors are the same, all using clockwise thread. With lock nuts, it should not be needed to have counter clockwise thread on the prop nuts, to avoid the props getting loose during flight. We'll see if that theory holds when I start flying, but apparently many already succesfully use this system, and it removes the need for producing motors in 2 directions, and included 2 different types of prop nuts.



3 – Transmitter/Preparing for 1st Flight:


The flight controller comes with BetaFlight 3.1.7 installed, and some tuning seems to have been done. Here are for instance the PID settings, for all settings, a full CLI dump has been included. This dump is from the DSM-X version, as that is the version I received, because the FrSky had no stock yet, apparently.




A wire is included to connect to a receiver with pin connector, such as bundled with the XM and XM+. I decided to solder the wires directly onto the XM+ receiver that was going to be fitted to the DM220, so I took a wire with a plug that matches the FC's Sbus connector, and soldered that onto the XM+ connection pads. This picture shows all the connection on the integrated Flight Controller/VTX combo board:




All that was needed to get control response, was to change the provider from Spektrum2048 (the setting for DSM-X) to Sbus, and all channels responded. Including RSSI, since I'd flashed this XM+ to a version that supports RSSI feedback to channel 16, so the OSD can display it too. Here's how the quad looked after receiver install:










Added some flight modes, as none were set, changed the programmable leds to show green when disarmed, and red when armed, and with the option to de-activate with LedLow on one of the Aux switches.

All that remained at this point was testing failsafe, and the idle speed settings, to see if the motors will run steadily in Air Mode.




4 - Flying Performance:


All checks turned out ok, and although the sun was close to setting, I wanted to try it. At the flying spot, there was still enough light to fly LoS and FPV. First impression is that it handles well, even on 3S there is good power. There was also time for a short FPV flight, but more about that in chapter 7, which covers the FPV performance.




5 - Preliminary Verdict:


The DarkMax 220 is a nicely performing quadcopter. Even on 3S, it's no slowpoke, but it apparently really shines on 4S or higher. Anyway, the handling (with BF 3.1.7) is pretty good for a stock tune, and camera and VTX are working well too.

Sadly enough, later batches are affected by a serious issue when using anything higher than 3S. This is definitely a "dark side" of the reputation of this FuriBee quad, and the shop selling it. Hopefully this will be solved eventually, as a well working DM220 is a joy to fly, and great value for money. It's a shame that it has been spending so much time crossing the line between highly enjoyable, and massively frustrating.


Pros:

- Nice strong frame with chamfered edges
- Detailed FPV image
- Looks sleek and powerful
- Hanldles nicely even on stock settings
- BetaFlight OSD
- Buzzer
- Leds
- Spare props



Cons:

- FPV antenna with 90 degree connector won't last long in a crash
- FPV range could be better
- Quality control not always ok, later batches showed issues when flying on 4S or higher
- Camera not very suitable for fast flying



6 - Suitable for a beginner?


Generally a 220 size has way too much power to be deemed a suitable beginner quadcopter. Also, it seems the frame isn't bullet proof, it can and will break in a hard crash. It is a very smooth flyer though, so for someone with some basic flying experience, the DM220 might be ok again. But only when the issues with the less compatible flight controllers, causing lockups and glitches, finally have become a thing of the past.



(to be continued)
Last edited by SoloProFan; Jun 09, 2018 at 04:24 PM.
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Sep 25, 2017, 09:50 AM
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7 - Camera & FPV Performance:


The all in one FC + VTX offers a clearly marked button to select channel and band. Small leds on the add-on VTX board show the channel and band number/character. Setting the power isn't that clear, I could find very little info on this board, so we'll get back to that later.

Camera is really nice, handles a variety of lighting conditions with relative ease, and offers a detailed and colorful picture.

Furibee DarkMax 220 - FPV Testing, stock PIDs, 3S 1500mAh LiPo (2 min 47 sec)



The biggest drawback could be the widescreen image, which may not be to everyone's liking, and when moving around faster, it doesn't feel as "connected" as better cameras.



Good power, agile, but still rather smooth. It feels like flying a smaller quad, since it reacts so well to the controls. Throttle control is also very good, and a soft landing concluded the flight.


Update 21 april 2018:

Made more FPV flights with the DarkMax 220. I still feel it handles nicely, but I must admit the widescreen camera can be a little odd when doing some faster FPV.

FuriBee DarkMax 220 - acro flight on a sunny evening - follow that bird! (4 min 10 sec)





8 – Additional Tuning, Modifications & Other Info


Preventing Lock Nuts from falling out during disassembly

Several people posted this convenient mod, using heat shrink to prevent the lock nuts that hold the super structure down on the frame plate, from falling out, when doing repairs. Simple but effective, thanks to those who shared this info:





Replacing AuroraRC Flight Controller

Many people have been confronted with the AuroraRC flight controller in their Dark Max not working as well as the original flight controller. There is already a nice video present in this topic, showing how to swap it out, without any soldering, for the original FC, or the updated version of it. Here are also some pictures showing a few steps in the process.

Removing the AuroraRC FC:








Installing new FC:




Although it's also present in the first posting, here's again the link to the video that JohnCC made, showing how to replace the FC:

Furibee DarkMax 220 - Death rolls? Motors stopping? Fix it! (21 min 17 sec)



And for completenes, here are some pictures, courtesy of member pRo_lama, showing labels for the main connections:







Replacing FPV Camera with Foxeer Predator Mini:

The stock camera is ok for some mild flying, but feels somewhat "detached" when making faster moves. Since Foxeer asked me to test a few of their cameras, this DM220 seemed like the perfect candidate for testing.

FuriBee DarkMax 220 - First test with Foxeer Predator Mini (*) (2 min 37 sec)





9 – Suggestions for Improvements:

- When a flight controller works fine, don't upgrade it to something that doesn't work
- Antenna mounting couild be more durable
- Better CCD camera, preferably 4:3 format
Last edited by SoloProFan; Jun 09, 2018 at 04:26 PM.
Sep 28, 2017, 10:40 AM
Time For Me To Fly!
fastmax's Avatar
I look forward to your thoughts, and some flight video. I will probably be getting this one soon too. I wonder how it will compare to the BFight 210 which should be arriving to me in the next couple days.
Sep 28, 2017, 02:33 PM
Fan of just about anything RC
SoloProFan's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by fastmax
I look forward to your thoughts, and some flight video. I will probably be getting this one soon too. I wonder how it will compare to the BFight 210 which should be arriving to me in the next couple days.

I made a short flight today, both LoS and FPV. Flies really well, clean camera image, even in low light. Rolls were rather snappy. At first comparison, it seems a little more lively than the BFight 210, but the 210 is ultra smooth.
Sep 29, 2017, 01:42 AM
Registered User
Sumfear's Avatar
Just have wayched some vids with this beast at 6s. I like how it screams...
Sep 29, 2017, 07:44 AM
Fan of just about anything RC
SoloProFan's Avatar
Added first fpv video, just 3s, but already quite zippy and agile.
Oct 13, 2017, 10:18 AM
Time For Me To Fly!
fastmax's Avatar
My DarkMax should be here Monday or Tuesday, and I am very excited to get it in the air.
Oct 13, 2017, 12:39 PM
...fast but crashy...
Bongocopter's Avatar
Had to get one as it is so fast on 5S or 6S. 5S 1300mAh seems to be the sweet spot. Stew (UAV) got 99mph on 5S and 100mph on 6S. I've got some Dinogy Mega Graphene 2.0 1350mAh 75C batteries coming. 190g...could all end in tears or laughter or both...
Oct 13, 2017, 01:15 PM
Time For Me To Fly!
fastmax's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bongocopter
Had to get one as it is so fast on 5S or 6S. 5S 1300mAh seems to be the sweet spot. Stew (UAV) got 99mph on 5S and 100mph on 6S. I've got some Dinogy Mega Graphene 2.0 1350mAh 75C batteries coming. 190g...could all end in tears or laughter or both...
I just watched that video and WOW!
Oct 14, 2017, 12:20 AM
Registered User
Mostly new to the hobby here, a friend got me addicted about a week back and I've been catching up on a lot of the basic technical stuff... Curious if anyone here would be familiar with the flysky X6B receiver.

Question is will this F4 board support the X6B reciever out of the box if I bought the PNP model of the darkmax 220?
--
Edit: Figured out I can just make a double ended JST SH 1.0mm 3-pin wire and should be good...
Last edited by NukaSoda; Oct 14, 2017 at 07:09 AM.
Oct 17, 2017, 11:49 AM
Time For Me To Fly!
fastmax's Avatar
Is there something special I need to do to get this to talk to a Flysky PPM RX? I received a Frsky BNF, removed the Frsky RX, soldered a matching plug onto one of my Flysky RX's plugged it in, it bound right away with no issues, I switched to PPM RX in Betaflight config, and I still get no stick movements in the receiver tab. Never had an issue like this before. Am I missing something simple?

EDIT- Ok, I figured it out. I had to turn off LED_Strip in the configuration tab. With it on, I had zero communication between the radio and the quad. As soon as it was turned off everything started working normally.
Last edited by fastmax; Oct 17, 2017 at 01:02 PM.
Oct 17, 2017, 04:02 PM
Fan of just about anything RC
SoloProFan's Avatar
I rarely use PPM. Some small FlySky receivers don't have FailSafe on PPM, only on ibus. Also, there should in theory be less latency with sbus/ibus.

Shame you don't live next door, I could always use an extra FrSky rx.
Oct 20, 2017, 08:42 AM
Newbie || Furibee Darkmax
Hi @SoloProFan! Thanks for your review so far. Do you already have some insights for tuning the darkmax? Any vibrations/oscillations noticable?

I'm looking forward to receiving mine in the next weeks
Oct 20, 2017, 09:15 AM
Fan of just about anything RC
SoloProFan's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrizFPV
Hi @SoloProFan! Thanks for your review so far. Do you already have some insights for tuning the darkmax? Any vibrations/oscillations noticable?

I'm looking forward to receiving mine in the next weeks

Mine flies great. Would consider it as high ranking in my current 2xx size top 5.
Oct 21, 2017, 10:04 AM
Time For Me To Fly!
fastmax's Avatar
I absolutely love my DarkMax. It is, at this point, my favorite 2xxmm quad that I have flown. I had an absolute blast with it yesterday on my new Tattu 4s batteries. I didn't realize how tired my old Turnigy 4s packs were until I flew with these new packs. The difference was like going from 3s to 4s.

Have batteries charging now, and will be heading out for some more flying in just a few


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