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Don't worry about the 350QX

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by marcus_canada, Sep 18, 2013.

  1. marcus_canada

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    I bought one of these today and test flew a few packs.

    It's supposed to be a Phantom Challenger but it has a few steps to take before that will happen !

    I'll just get right into it and tell you why it's not as good as a Phantom by a LONG way...

    The default, or "Preferred" mode is SMART, which basically means Heading Lock. That is already crap as we know, it's fun for 2 minutes but then simply tedious. I used it on my Phantom and Wookong bird Once.
    SMART mode also activates GPS Position lock and Altitude control. Altitude control is a bit weird though, the throttle stick is ratcheted, like the original Phantom TX's, and basically put, every click on the throttle is a specific height, kinda.. If you're holding height and you push one click forward, the 350QX rises, say 3ft, another click, another 3ft. if you push the throttle a lot it will rise or descend continuously until you bring the stick into a more central position, but then it makes it's own mind up where/when it settles on a height. So like, if you're descending and want to level out, you are up/down on the throttle trying to stop the bouncing which could be 20ft or higher in magnitude.

    Stability Mode is GPS position hold without altitude hold. This sounds more typical and more like the GPS mode we love on the Phantom, but the QX is just awful at maintaining a reasonable grip on altitude when you execute the slightest maneuver in any axis. It puts me in mind of a heli which bleeds height at the slightest cyclic or yaw input, but worse because if you try to counter height loss with throttle the curve is so aggressive that the thing ends up climbing out, so now you're up/down on the gas again ! :? :roll:

    So I saved the worst til last........

    I got the QX Hovering in SMART at about 15ft, and then changed to stability mode - WOW. She went down like a sack of crap, hit the deck and flipped. You have to (Wait for it) drop the throttle to zero and pull the throttle trim back to shut the motors down - Yea, really, so the thing is on it's props running at idle while I got the trim button under my finger and shut it down. Unreal, who the Hell thought of that shut down procedure?

    Here's the problem - the lower and upper part of the throttle curve is for descent and climb, the middle area is for fine adjustment of height. So, what I did was climb up to like 30ft, leveled off, then clicked back like 3 or 4 clicks to bring it to 15ft. So now the throttle is in the lower 25/30% area of the curve - right. When I switched to Stability, it just dropped like a stone, that's not nearly enough throttle to hold it at that height, like, how the Hell are you supposed to know that? It was so quick my finger was still making it's way back to the throttle from the switch when the thing hit dirt, I had no chance. I was expecting a seamless transition, like the DJI GPS-ATT switch..

    I killed a prop so after I replaced it I tried a few experiments with that mode switching, and I have to say it's just terrible. The worst descriptor you can use with these things is "random", but that's how this function manifests itself.

    I dare say you could get used to this, and I will, but this is NOT a quad you can give to somebody who never flew in manual before because it would end poorly.

    Do these things have a firmware update function?
     
  2. rilot

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    Am I right in my understanding that you can't have GPS position hold and altitude hold without course lock? If so, that's really crap.
     
  3. marcus_canada

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    That is correct. Although to be fair, the altitude hold is far from helpful anyway so it's no great loss. Flying circuits with altitude hold on is ugly, as you put Yaw into the thing, you invariably knock the throttle up or down at least one notch on the throttle which sends the thing lurching up or down 3ft or so.

    I'm not a fan of barometers, Sonar sensors are so much more accurate and don't give you that bouncy thing.
     
  4. marcus_canada

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    So just came back from another 3-pack session with it. Anyone wanna buy a 350QX? :lol:

    Ok, Good points:

    SMART mode (IOC to us) - works perfectly as does the 30ft safety circle round the operator.

    RTH mode - works great, better than Phantom really. When you engage it, the QX stops what it's doing and comes straight back. No ugly delays like when the Phantom lazily figures out whether it wants to come back or not and even when it's back, waits 60sec before it descends.

    Battery life - Seems great although right now I'm basically trying to keep it off the ground more than having fun.

    NOT Good points:

    Smart Mode - Works ok as I said above but did you actually try to fly a quad for any length of time under IOC ? It's tough ! You have to switch off all the orientation processes in your head which is tough after years of flying/driving, especially as we all turn to look at the aircraft in the air, which is a fatal flaw in operating in IOC mode. So why not just fly in Stability?? Read below

    Stability Mode - Holy-Pogo-Sticks Batman, this thing is bloody awful at maintaining any semblance of height. I realize that height control in this mode is off, but come on, it really is like I said before, like a 1980's R/C Helicopter where you have to throttle up and down constantly. I did a test with the QX holding a steady hover, I then put a lazy yaw into it and down comes the QX, and I mean, DOWN. So I gave it a little gas and up it shoots, too quickly so now I'm going through the bounce routine trying to get it back where it was.
    The other thing I did was to leave it in a 30ft high hover without doing anything. It was doing really well, (It is stable) then for some reason she started to descend at an increasing rate ! Like, WTF really.

    You can't fly circuits with this thing, you are constantly concentrating on your height and waiting for it to dump.

    RTH Mode - It works great, like I say above, but the book says you can switch it off at any time, and in fact the RTF model uses the sprung [trainer] switch on the DX5 so all you have to do is depress it to get the QX back close to you and release it to get control back. Sounds good....... In reality when you press it, the QX comes straight back (No height ascent first so be sure you gas it up over tree height first), but now you want to take back control, well look out because, you guessed it, as soon as you release RTH the thing just about has a momentary epileptic seizure. Big body shake and because the motors are fighting the shake down she comes again so you have to put gas into it.

    Landing - For the love of Pete, why did they make us slide the trim down to stop the motors?? That's insanity ! You drop the QX down nice and smooth which is already a chore because the throttle is so twitchy and you're bouncing up/down 3ft as you try to get the thing to the touchdown point, but when you do get it on the ground and the throttle is at 0%, you have to crank a spare finger to the trim button to switch the motors off. If you dare touch any stick as you reach for the trim button the thing reacts like it's in flight and tries to execute a maneuver. :roll:



    No, I don't like it. It's not fun to fly. Fly the Phantom and you wish you had more batteries, it's relaxing, it does what it says on the box. This thing is a backward step in stable, easy to fly, quads.
    I initially thought there could be an issue with the barometer but in SMART mode the thing has a very firm hold on height :?:
     
  5. GoodnNuff

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    I mostly agree with your assesment and critique of the 350QX. Not having altitude hold in the Stability mode was not a good decision by Blade, and the shut down manuever is really stupid. I'm using my Spektrum 5e transmitter that came with my Apprentice S 15e (fixed wing trainer plane with the same "SAFE" technology as the 350) and found that if I pull back the Panic/Bind switch if also shuts down my motors - easier and faster than fumbling for the trim (again, how awkward and stupid).
    Not sure if that will work with the stock radio, although they are the same "new" 5e transmitter with the 3 position mode switch.

    Where I differ with your opinion is the fun factor - I'm having a blast flying the 350QX! The SAFE mode is boring and slow, but the STABILITY mode is a blast, IMO! I also have the Blade NanoQX, so I'm a bit more used to the company's quirks and modes than perhaps you are? But flying the 350 is more like flying a fixed wing with both sticks used at almost all times to maintain navigation. I can't say that the Phantom and the 350 evenQX compare, other than both having 4 blades, GPS and a GoPro mount in common, they are very different machines.

    I can't justify keeping two quadcopters - I really enjoy fixed wing flying more anyway, but I'm going to need a bit more air time before I can objectively say whether I favor one over the other, and decide if I want to sell one.
     
  6. Roadkilt

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    Great review. A lot of those issues are fixable in software. If they did that, big if, how does the build compare? Can it lift a gimbal and gopro or better? I figure DJI sees these quads as the phones chasing the iPhone 5 years ago and there will be an explosion of features and choices. I like these really intelligent reviews compared to the phantom instead of the YouTube online reviews which sound more like infomercials from retailers.
     
  7. GoodnNuff

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    On another forum dedicated to the Blade 350QX, members are hoping for future updates and software twitches. However I'm not aware of Blade doing this with any of their other products, nor can I find any type of port on the 350 that would allow an interface for updates.

    The plastic or composite seems to be of a lesser quality than what is used in the Phantom. It is much lighter though. The battery compartment is a nice fit, but the door even more flimsy and apt to be lost than the Phantom's stock door. I popped my door off twice yesterday with hard landings (a nice landing is possible, but a bigger challenge than with the Phantom). Props are more flexible than the Phantom's stock props, but the motors are 1100 KV as opposed to the Phantom's 92 kv motors. Also the 350 is about 400 grams lighter compared to the Phantom. I haven't shot video yet, but what I've seen appears to have less vibration than the Phantom's stock video.
     
  8. GoodnNuff

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    err...make that 920 kv
     
  9. GoodnNuff

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  10. marcus_canada

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    Quality wise the case is comparable I guess. I carried my GoPro3 with it this morning (Will post a short video later) and it barely made any difference. I'm sure a gimbal would be ok and given the nervous nature of the flight characteristics, necessary.

    I understand the ESC's are only 10A rated though, so at some point it will complain about weight.
     
  11. marcus_canada

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    No I agree, they are different machines for sure, but it seems that the wave of comments from resellers is that the QX is a cheaper, but equally capable, alternative to a Phantom. It is not and it's going to reflect on Blade poorly. They should have used a different pitch.
    I'm interested to see how the Walkera version flies, maybe I should get one of those too :lol:
     
  12. marcus_canada

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  13. GoodnNuff

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    Marcus, so you're dropping altitude when you switch from SMART to STABILITY? I've been jumping skyward with a gain in altitude when I do the switch - odd.

    But this lack of a smooth transitition could be a deal breaker for many people. I do hope Blade has the ability to offer updates and software fixes, but not sure how they'd do that without a way to connect the unit to the internet?
     
  14. marcus_canada

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    Well, it varies actually, which is worse because I now climb to give me enough space below to switch modes in case she sinks but sometimes it jumps skyward :lol: I did all the calibrations etc and it made no difference, I think it's just the nature of the beast.

    I started pulling the throttle trim back a few clicks when in flight so when I touch down I kill the motors as soon as I hit 0% throttle. Works well.
     
  15. Despire91

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    Hey Marcus_Canada how much do you want for the 350 qx? I'm selling my 450x because it's just to big and I just started flying, flew it maybe through 3 battery charges. Nothing wrong with it except the part that holds the vertical fin a piece broke, then part of the battery, and motor are scratched from rubbing together. It flies like a beast he'll I haven't even broken it in yet.
     
  16. Despire91

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    Message me at uttermost_rocks@hotmail.com I will probably buy it from you depending on price or trade the 450x for the quad and a little cash.