Overall rating: 8/10
Value for money: 10/10!
Pros: Easy to fly, durable quadcopter with FPV screen and camera included!
Cons: Monitor is quite dim, prop guards add too much weight, instructions manual is horrific and quad wasn’t packaged as I expected.
Banggood shopping link: click here
First off let me apologise for the lack of new articles over the past week. I’ve been on holiday and I’m afraid spending time with friends has trumped sitting in front of the computer writing! Luckily it has also given me an opportunity to properly put the V686G FPV Quadcopter from WLToys through it’s paces. Finding breaks in the somewhat miserable weather has been difficult but the drone has now flown more than twenty times and I have really been able to get to grips with the step up (in complexity) from the Cheerson CX-10 I started flying with.
I placed my order with Banggood on the 31st July for the V686 quadcopter (plus a spare battery) and so I was pleasantly surprised to find it turn up at work on the 17th August, just 11 working days later. I think we are past the days of old when ordering from the Far East meant a 2-3 month wait for your purchase to arrive. There will be exceptions but Banggood at least seem to have cracked what the Western market has come to expect from customer care. Shipping was free yet still included a tracking link which is always a relief when ordering from somewhere for the first time.
I eagerly opened the box that night to check out my new toy and was surprised to see that WLToys has made a change to the packaging. In the videos on Youtube and photos I’d seen on other review websites the packaging looked smart and well thought out. However it appears that they have simplified it somewhat, perhaps to lighten the box for shipping or to consolidate the packaging with other products of their’s. Either way it made everything harder to remove and cheapened the overall presentation of the quadcopter. Not that it matters I guess as everything had survived the 5000 mile trip and was in one piece.
You really do get everything you need with the WLToys V686G and whilst carefully unpacking the box I was glad to see a 4GB microSD card (the listing said 2GB) + USB reader and even a little screwdriver for attaching the prop guards. Aside from the quadcopter and the 2.4GHz radio controller the box also included 4x prop guards, a set of spare props, a battery, battery charger, an HD camera with 5.8GHz video transmitter, the FPV monitor (incl. built in 5.8GHz receiver) with sunshade, aerial, it’s own USB charger and mount to attach it to the transmitter. The screen attaches via the mount and two included thumbscrews meaning it can be quickly removed for re-boxing. In fact the only thing that isn’t included is the 6x AA batteries for the radio controller!
I attached the prop guards and charged the battery. Read the manual. Threw away the manual. Went online to watch a youtube video to find out what the hell the manual was meant to be saying. Then headed up to the park for it’s first flight. The quad definitely struggles with the weight of the prop guards and they unfortunately catch the wind a bit too much for my liking. I upped the sensitivity to 60% and was able to fight the wind with more success. The monitor was bright enough on the overcast summer’s evening to see a good image on and the transmission quality stayed consistent to about 75-100 metres away. Although I thought it would probably go a little further, I wasn’t comfortable enough to put it through a range test especially as dusk was about to fall. Without using the camera to record or take photos I was able to get around 8-9 minutes of flight of the single battery.
I have to admit to feeling a little down on the quadcopter at this stage. It didn’t seem to be performing how I’d expected but having read some other reviews I knew it was due to the prop guards. Was I man enough to remove them yet? Yes, yes I was! It’s only £70 I thought to myself and I vowed to fly it without the prop guards once I was on holiday.
And so I did. The improvement was massive and before long I was flying with confidence, filming above the tree line at Holkham hall, performing flips and flying through the archway at my friends house!
So what is the footage like? Variable I suppose is the truthful answer but equally rather good for such a low cost quadcopter and camera. The camera is able to film at (a confirmed) 720P 30fps and it will take 2MP photos. Unfortunately these photos are prone to suffering blur caused by the slow exposure speed of the camera. The focus also doesn’t seem quite right as you can see in the example shots below:
Videos seem to cope with movement a little better but, as this camera doesn’t have a gimbal, stability relies on the careful control of the aircraft and lack of wind. Transitions from light to dark scenes also catch it out but not as badly as other FPV cameras on the market.
I’ve put together some clips of footage I shot using the V686G below. Please note that the original quality was slightly higher but Youtube encoding and the cutting/joining of the clips seems to have reduced it:
The framerate of the footage transmitted to the monitor drops quite substantially when recording and will pause for a few seconds whilst taking a photo. This is definitely something to be aware of if you plan to film whilst flying FPV but as I only use the monitor to check orientation and the framing of the shot it isn’t a huge problem for me.
The packaging and manual state that this quadcopter features a RTH (return-to-home) function but due to the lack of GPS this can only work via calculations made from gyro readings. As such I really don’t trust this and haven’t used it for fear of losing the drone as it shoots off in one direction or other.
I don’t believe there is a quadcopter out there that can compete on features and price with the WLToys V686G. Sure there are limitations to it but these are outweighed by the inclusion of an FPV screen and fairly decent camera. Apart from the spare battery I also bought some replacement motors after reading that those that come with it are prone to failure. With over twenty flights flown without problem I think this was £10 spent prematurely. This quad is of high enough quality to provide hours of fun but cheap enough to allow you to push the limits and risk crashing. It has shown me that I enjoy flying quadcopters and that investment in a more advanced model wouldn’t be a waste of money. Many advanced drones feature GPS position hold and altitude hold allowing you to fly without risk but this cheap toy will teach you how to fly and as such I highly recommend it to beginners or even intermediate flyers looking to improve their “manual” mode flying skills.
If I have missed something or got something wrong please get in touch below!