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May 09, 2019, 02:23 AM
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Mini-Review

HappyModel Sailfly-X: Cheap "Toothpick-style" FPV quad, how good is it? (review, wip)


While there is still some debate on how to define "Toothpick" type of quad, Happymodel, who had/has a massive hit with the Mobula 7, is jumping on the bandwagon with the SailFly-X. Initial reviews of (pre?) production samples are very positive about it, so I was happy to be given the chance to test this one.


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 written review, instead of some summarizing remarks or a single video, 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 this in an address line of a fresh browser window/tab.


Update 24 may 2019:

Quad has arrived, starting review right away!



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

1: Specifications (posting #1)
2: Unboxing (posting #1)
3: Preparing for 1st Flight (posting #1)
4: Flying Performance (posting #1)
5: Camera & FPV Performance (posting #1)
6: Suitable for a Beginner? (posting #1)
7: Preliminary Verdict (posting #1)
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.banggood.com/Happymodel-...p-1453471.html

The Sailfly-X is available in 4 versions, with FrSky receiver, DSM-X, FlySky, and as PnP, without receiver. When this thread was started, price was around 78.95 euro for the version with receiver, the PnP is a fraction less.



2 - Unboxing:

Compared to the Mobula 7, the packaging of the Sailfly-X feels like a step back. No protective foam, bubble wrap, anything. The quad is somewhat jammed inside the box, and secured at the back by a bag with props, the lower angle canopy, and some more. The 3S battery is just able to wander freely inside the box. It may not be very heavy, but still it's not something you want for an item that tends to have to travel far across the globe, to reach the doorstep of it's new owner.

Luckily, it seemed no damage was done, at least not anything that is instantly visible.

The 1102 motors now show the correct kv rating of 8500, and the axle is 1.5mm. The motors feel smooth, when rotated manually. One thing I also like about the motors, is that the axle is secured with an e-clip on the top as well. Especially with press fit props, it's not uncommon to have the axle be pushed out of the motor when trying to install the prop. Therefore it's smart to support the axle at the bottom, when installing the props, even with this e-clip in place, but it does help to prevent damage to the motors.

It's clear the Sailfly-X was also designed with the intention of keeping things light. The frame is a single piece carbon, on which the all in one FC is installed on 2 plastic screws with rubber grommets, and on top on those screws comes the 3D printed canopy, which holds the AIO camera/VTX combo.






The battery lead uses an XT30 connector, and has also been fitted with a small capacitator, rated 16v 100uF, which is secured to the connector with clear heat shrink.




Because the FC has been mounted flipped upside down, the USB port can now be accessed from the top, and is even available with battery installed. There is also access to the button to set the VTX, but it's much preferred to use the OSD to set the VTX channel. If you want to use the button, Smart Audio would have to be disabled first, in BetaFlight configurator, or the settings won't stick, as Smart Audio will override these on the next power up:




Here you can see the pretty "interesting" camera angle:




And the conveniently added connector between camera/VTX and the FC, making it easier to swap out the camera, or remove the canopy, when working on frame or FC:





3 – Preparing for 1st Flight:

Even though though by now BetaFlight 4.0.0 has been officially released, the FC in the Sailfly-X still came witht the pre-release version that we also got with the Mobula 7. The manual does warn that if you want to keep using this firmware, you can't use the latest version of the Configurator, and that if you do want to use 10.5.1 version of the app, you need to update the firmware. If you do decide to change the firmware, there are some special settings you need to apply, because the board is mounted upside down, with USB port on top. These changes involve motor mapping, and board orientation, and are even specified for 3.5.7 and 4.0.x firmware.

For reference, a "Diff All" file can be found attached to the second message in this thread.

At least with the FrSky version, binding can be done either by pressing the bind button, or typing "bind" in CLI. If you have upgraded to the official 4.0.x firmware, the command is different, and you need to type "bind_rx_spi" instead. You can select between D16 and D8 by setting the built-in receiver type to FRSKY_D (D8 mode) or FRSKY_X for D16 mode.

It is recommended to not enable telemetry, as there is a bug in the pre-release of 4.0.0 firmware, that can cause random drops when running D16 and telemetry. Not all boards seem affected, but if you want to use telemetry, D8 mode tends to be more reliable, or changing to official 4.0.x release is also supposed to help.




4 - Flying Performance:


First testing was done indoor, just some basic hovering. The quad felt very sensitive for throttle changes, but overall sounded smooth and seemed stable.




5 - Camera & FPV Performance:

Despite very windy conditions, which seemed like way too much for a small brushless flyer, I decided to give it a go, and took the SailFly-X outside, for a spin. And that didn't go too bad at all. Here's the video of the first flight:

First flight with the HappyModel SailFly-X, very windy conditions (3 min 16 sec)



Speed and power are nice, but what surprised me most is how stable the quad felt despite the strong winds. No excessive shuddering, naturally the wind caused the quad to drift when flying a straight line, but that was to be expected, and could be countered with relative ease. At full throttle there was a bit extra noise, and some shaking, which might be inbalance in the props, or something else. Needs a closer look.


Update 28 may 2019:

Tried a different battery, the Gaoneng 2S 300mAh, which came bundled with the FullSpeed Tiny Leader. It fits the battery holder, a bit tight, but it works. Here's a video of flying with this battery:

HappyModel Sailfly-X on 2S 300mAh GNB battery (2 min 19 sec)



Quad is still fast and snappy, though despite the lower weight of the 2S battery vs the stock one, you feel it has quite a bit less punch, and feels less locked in. It still tracks nicely in corners and such, but if you have experienced the wicked cornering and overall excitement of running 3S, it will feel like a step back.


Update 6 june 2019:

Despite the vibrations on full throttle on 3S, it's still my preferred battery, it feels super locked in and powerful with that battery.

HappyModel Sailfly-X: back to 3S (4 min 10 sec)


Ripping with the HappyModel SailFly-X, 3S, stock PIDs (4 min 40 sec)





6 - Suitable for a beginner?


No way. Steep camera angle, very lively stock tune, no prop guards, frame that is built to be light and fast, and probably less suitable for accepting the repeated of crashes. The 3D printed canopy apparently can take a few hits, it has some "give" and it is possible to move the camera to the lower angle purple color canopy, but still it is clear this quad was not designed to be beginner type.




7 - Preliminary Verdict:


The Sailfly-X offers amazing performance due to the combination of low weight, and 65mm props. Stock tune and rates are set to rip around on the stock 3S battery. And this for an attractive price.

On the downside, to keep prices low, some corners have been cut. Like the very basic packaging, allowing the battery to bounce around inside the box, risking it to damage the quad, or maybe itself get damaged. Also, the FC has been reported to have a pretty high failure rate, sometimes only surviving a few flights. This should have been fixed with the addition of a capacitator on the power cable, which does show that despite trying to cut costs wherever possible, HappyModel still does some attempts to improve their products.

So while not perfect, and not the same as a 1S ultra silent "Toothpick" setup, the Sailfly-X does offer a lot of performance for what you pay for it, and with the changes made to the power wire, should be reliable enough to be considered, if you want a small and light "ripper" for considerably less than you'd normally pay when building your own version.


Pros:

- F4 Flight Controller with BetaFlight OSD
- Comes with battery
- Included manual gives good information
- Binding possible through CLI, at least with FrSky version
- Well tuned, very smooth, even in a strong breeze
- Looks really nice
- Relatively low price
- Capacitator added to power connector, to protect FC
- Camera and VTX use connector, makes replacement much easier
- Easy access to USB port


Cons:

- No buzzer
- Battery can move around freely inside the box
- Wrong props included, 1mm hole instead of 1.5mm (will probably be fixed on later production batches)
- Camera angle can only be adjusted by replacing canopy
- VTX only offers 25mW power setting
- Can be tricky to fit the rear plastic nut, holding the canopy
- Vibrations on full throttle


(to be continued)
Last edited by SoloProFan; Jun 06, 2019 at 04:19 AM.
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May 09, 2019, 02:24 AM
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8 Additional Tuning, Modifications & Other Info



9 Suggestions for Improvements:
Last edited by SoloProFan; May 27, 2019 at 11:46 PM.
May 22, 2019, 01:56 AM
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While this one showed up on my orders page the same day this thread was started, apparently it shipped the 15th, and only today changed to "in transit". I do hope the tracking is lagging a bit behind the real situation, and it will be here soon now. Sorry for the delay, even though there isn't much I could have done to speed things up.
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May 24, 2019, 03:48 PM
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Quad has arrived, added some info, and more to come.
Latest blog entry: For the love of the hobby!
May 24, 2019, 07:30 PM
Are we not men? We are DEVO!
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Just posted same in the other sailfly thread... Going to be interesting to see people react to the speed and camera angle on this lil guy.
May 26, 2019, 01:57 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xanuser
Just posted same in the other sailfly thread... Going to be interesting to see people react to the speed and camera angle on this lil guy.

That will be a challenge indeed. I do expect this to be a "bit faster" than an Eachine QX90C.

Just looked at the stock rates, these are quite "interesting" with for example Yaw RC Rate of 130 and Super Rate of 80 and no expo afaik. I will take it easy the first flight, for sure, get the feel for it, before trying to do anything fancy with it. Hopefully having flown many different quads will help me to adjust to it's handling fast enough to prevent any mishaps.
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May 26, 2019, 07:25 AM
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Added first video, please check the first message for the flight.
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May 27, 2019, 11:32 PM
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Added 2S flying video, as well as more content, like some pictures.
Last edited by SoloProFan; May 27, 2019 at 11:55 PM.
Jun 06, 2019, 04:13 AM
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More videos added, this is my latest flight. Loving this little ripper:

Ripping with the HappyModel SailFly-X, 3S, stock PIDs (4 min 40 sec)
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Jun 15, 2019, 02:49 PM
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With the lighter (2g lighter than the one I tried first) 2S 300mAh, it can still rip nicely:

Slalom practice with the HappyModel SailFly-X, running on 2S (3 min 36 sec)
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Jul 27, 2019, 06:01 PM
Registered User

Beginner here


Saw the Sailfly X and thought it looked awesome at a local shop.. I'm brand new to FPV but have flown quads for a while, although I'm just not an intermediate pilot I would say. Long sorry short.. This thing is definitely not for beginners at FPV as you say! I've not had a catastrophic crash with it, but the steep camera angle demands high speed and even on 2s it's a lot to handle for a beginner. I can keep it moving in a small side yard but it's hard to really learn with it being so aggressive. The power is impressive and ease of use with the USB port being so accessible is great. I am excited to train more and work up to this little beast.
Jul 28, 2019, 12:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PharmaCyclist
Saw the Sailfly X and thought it looked awesome at a local shop.. I'm brand new to FPV but have flown quads for a while, although I'm just not an intermediate pilot I would say. Long sorry short.. This thing is definitely not for beginners at FPV as you say! I've not had a catastrophic crash with it, but the steep camera angle demands high speed and even on 2s it's a lot to handle for a beginner. I can keep it moving in a small side yard but it's hard to really learn with it being so aggressive. The power is impressive and ease of use with the USB port being so accessible is great. I am excited to train more and work up to this little beast.

Thanks for sharing your experience. Btw, regarding the camera angle, you can check if you have the high or low angle canopy fitted. I have 2 of these, and one came with the low angle canopy fitted, the other with the high angle. And both canopies were the same color, so that is where the mix up must have occurred.

It is a rewarding challenge to learn to fly this one with confidence and control. I must admit it's almost addictive to whip in around a slalom course of streetlights, as you can see in my vids. It just swings so tightly around a hard turn, which almost impossible to trigger propwash during that move.
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