Out Of The Box Innovations VLXF230 Frame Review (Part 2)

Ian Petrie’s put together a follow up artice for the VLXF230! Check it out his guest post below.

Introduction

So, you will have read my part one review (you did, didn’t you!?) and my thoughts on the frame itself. The assembled frame got a lot of interested noises from those I showed it to, including how stiff it was and how big it appeared to be. Time came then to kit it out and I’d assembled all the bits and pieces I needed to complete the build. My intention was to fly it back to back with my trusty Shendrones Mako 5” because they are the same size of frame and so I fitted identical equipment with the exception of the four in one ESC which was the newer model.

Kit List

  • Luminier Skitzo flight controller
  • Racerstar Tattoo 4*35A ESC
  • Dragonfly 2206 motors
  • Runcam Swift 2
  • Tramp HV VTX
  • Frsky XSR

You’ve probably never heard of the motors, but they’re a pre-hype high kV motor, possibly made by T-motor, and there’ll be more on them later…

The Build

First of all, I stripped the frame back down to its component parts and dressed them up with coloured vinyl. It’s probably a hangover from my RC car days, but I like them to look good and be seen. Then I test fitted the electronics in the stack. This is quite important because of the enclosed area for the stack in the middle of the frame. I’ll admit to having been a little too ambitious at first because I hadn’t factored in the wiring on the boards (rookie mistake), however with a little fettling I managed to squeeze the four in one, flight controller and VTX in the same gap.

Despite the limited headroom, there’s quite a lot of room in the body of the frame for all the equipment and using separate ESCs coupled with a PDB/FC, if that’s your preference, gives a little extra room because they can mount on the root of the arms. I mounted the Tramp TNR tag on one arm and the receiver, XT60, VTX SMA and buzzer in the tail portion of the frame. The end result was quite neat from the outside even if a lot of swearing was involved in putting it together. All the relevant ports and buttons were readily accessible through the sides and slots of the frame, so setting it up was an easy process. Getting the arms to stay located while putting the top plate on took a bit of practice. I found that having the quad raised by about a centimetre (luckily the height of the battery protector I use) meant that the arms would stay where they were and could be fully located on both plates with a little wiggle of the arms.

Up and Running

A quick system check proved everything worked as well as hoped and I brought it along to round three of the Scottish Drone League to get other people’s thoughts on the finished article. In general, there was positive noises all around, most people were impressed at just how flat the body was and how stiff the frame was. In isolation, the frame appeared to most people to be very big, indeed you can run six inch props on it, but back to back with my Shendrone Mako, it’s about the same size but a lower profile.

The maiden flight was a simple line of sight test run and what struck me immediately was just how quiet the frame was from idle. At hover with Dalprop V2s (the azure props in the photos are too fragile to fly, but look good) it was whisper quiet compared to the Mako and it appeared that the vertical arms are less affected by the thrust from the props than horizontal ones. Even with a gentle line of sight flight around the garden it looked fearsome in the air and I was eager to test it back to back with the Mako.

My plan was to fly at our usual spot and use the park furniture as a rough course to fly around. I alternated between the quads, one battery in one and one in the other. There was a stiff breeze to make it interesting and I thought that more challenging conditions might help to bring out their differences. I flew the Mako first as a benchmark and it flew as I was used to; it didn’t seem to like the headwind, floated with a tailwind and a bit of propwash wobble.

As I’d hoped, the following flight with the VLXF230 was quite different! It was more eager to get in the air than the Mako and, rather than leaning into the headwind and settling at a constant speed, it gathered pace to arrive at turns much faster than I was expecting. This wasn’t an issue though because it cornered on rails with no side slip and felt far more precise in the air, both in the turns and keeping a steady height regardless of whether flying into, across or with the wind. Returning to the Mako after a flight with the VLXF230 highlighted the differences even more, it felt soft and imprecise by comparison which is very strange for a frame that is still considered a top performer.

The precision with which I could fly the VLXF230 gave me far more confidence and I was able to fly much harder and faster than I was used to. A few big crashes left the frame undamaged and only some divots to pick out of the motors. The stock Raceflight firmware seemed to work great with it which was a relief since the flight controller didn’t want to talk to the new BLHeli32 ESCs that I was using.

Overall the flying experience was a positive one and I would be confident to recommend this frame. The flight characteristics will appeal to experienced racers because of the precision it can be flown with, something like what Stu from UAVFutures found when he reviewed the Talon.

These things are the future, so go and get one!

Equipment Issues

The frame performed brilliantly during the testing, however the same cannot be said for the equipment I used and was one of the reasons this article was delayed. It was so bad that it was worth mentioning in addition to the review. The most spectacular failure was with the dragonfly motors that I used. On its maiden flight, I fluffed a roll at hover and the quad hit the ground from all of five feet up. I got a surprise when the props flew off and it wasn’t until I picked the quad up that I realised it was the motor bells that had come off! I lost three motors in a drop from hover (left pic below) and then another three on my last back to back flight against the Mako (right pic below), all in all, six motors in as many batteries! I can only assume that they were a bad batch as the ones fitted to my Mako have taken months of endless abuse without so much as a grumbly bearing.

In addition to the motor failures, the ESC didn’t seem to want to play either. While test fitting the stack, the socket on the board came away and it was beyond my abilities to fix, something that is frustrating at the best of times and even more so when I’m trying to do a model review! A replacement was ordered and so I could get the test flights done, at least until the motors failed. It did give me an excuse to get some EMAX white tops, however, so it wasn’t a total disaster.

Anyway, happy flying!

About The Author

Ian is a native Glaswegian and literate engineer who hangs around with expert FPV pilots in the hope that some of their talent rubs off.

References

The equipment quoted in this article can be found by following the links below:

Quads

Tech

  • Luminier Skitzo flight controller
  • Racerstar Tattoo 4*35A ESC
  • Dragonfly 2206 motors EMAX 2306 motors
  • Runcam Swift 2 with GoPro lens
  • Tramp HV VTX
  • Frsky XSR
  • Matek DBuz5V 5v beeper
  • Matek WS2812B lightbars

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