Review: Eachine Novice II Micro Drone RTF Kit

The Eachine Novice-II is an RTF (ready to fly) FPV drone kit. It comes with everything you need – the drone, radio controller, FPV goggles, batteries and charger. If you are new and don’t know what to buy, or you just want a drone you can easily carry around, you might want to check this out.

Banggood: http://bit.ly/33H01O

It comes with the following items:

  • Novice-II micro drone
  • Radio transmitter
  • VR007 FPV Goggles
  • 10x 1S 460mah LiPo batteries
  • LiPo Charger
  • One spare set of propellers
  • Screw driver and spare screws
  • AV cable
  • Manuals
  • A carry case that houses everything above!

You will also need four AAA batteries for the radio, but that’s it!

The drone is pre-built, and already bound to the radio. It even came pre-configured (although there are a few settings you might want to change on your computer before flying).

And you do have to charge the batteries as they came half charged.

The Novice-II is a “toothpick” style, 2.5″ ultra-light micro quad.

The wheelbase of the frame (diagonal motor distance) is 120mm, and the arms are 2.5mm thick. The flight controller is well protected by the top plate. Overall the Novice-II has a pretty strong frame design.

It weighs 52g without battery, which is a bit heavy considering this is a 2S micro quad, but it’s not the end of the world.

The motors are 1103 8500KV, with 65mm two-blade propellers. The motor KV is a little low for 1S batteries, but decent on 2S.

The motors are connected to the flight controller using connectors, so it’s easy to replace if you get a faulty one. You don’t even have to remove the top plate to access these connectors, which is handy. Some people prefer “direct solder”, but since the motor and prop combo in the Novice-II isn’t very aggressive, these connectors should work just fine.

On the product page, it says the FC is the “Nano X4 F4 FC”, but I think it’s just a re-branded Happymodel Crazybee F4 Pro (possibly the V2.1 because of the ESC rating).

The FC has built-in 5A 4in1 ESC, capable of running DShot600 protocol. It also has a built-in radio receiver, compatible with FrSky D8 protocol.

There are two rows of 6 LED’s located under the top plate, powered by the FC.

They are so bright it makes searching for your crashed quad much easier, not to mention the onboard buzzer as well!

The 5.8GHz video transmitter sits on top of the FC. It’s capable of transmitting at 25mW or 200mW. It’s equipped with a dipole antenna with UFL connector which is hanging loose. From experience it’s best to strap the antenna to the top plate, or it will get pull in crashes and disconnect from the VTX.

The camera is the Caddx Turbo EOS2 camera (NTSC version). It’s mounted on 2 screws and you can easily adjust the tilt angle. The optimal tilt angle depends on how fast you fly. For example, the faster you fly, you want a steeper camera tilt angle, otherwise all you see is the ground.

Interestingly, you can fly 1S or 2S with this drone. (not sure what 1S/2S means?)

The the Novice-II has two battery connectors, and you can connect up to two 1S batteries to the drone at the same time. When connecting only one battery, you are powering it with 1S, if you connect two batteries, you can powering it with 2S. This is similar to the Emax Tinyhawk Freestyle.

1S is slower and less powerful, but it gives you extra precision with the control, more suitable for flying indoor or challenging environment . If you want extra power and speed, 2S is the way to go.

If you want to run 1S, you can connect the pin provided to one of the battery connectors, so you can plug in only one single battery to power the drone.

The TPU battery mount does a good job holding the batteries in place securely. However if you want to fly with only one battery, you might want to insert a piece of foam in there.

The RTF Kit comes with 1S 460mAh LiHV batteries and a charger. LiHV means these batteries can be charged up to 4.35V. If you have LiPo batteries that do not mention LiHV, they can only be charged up to 4.20V.

This charger is designed specifically for 1S batteries with PH2.0 connectors. I bought one separately a while back (https://bit.ly/2CebpWb) and I really like it.

You can charge up to 6 batteries at the same time independently, meaning it doesn’t care if the battery voltages being equal , unlike parallel charging. And you can easily adjust the end voltage (4.20V / 4.35V) and charging current (0.2A / 0.6A) with the slide switches. It’s just so intuitive and simple to use.

It can be powered by a DC source of 7V to 25V, for example, a big LiPo battery with XT60 connector, or a power supply with DC 5.5 barrel connector.

If you don’t have a power supply for this already, you can get one of this: http://bit.ly/2DCtKgP

The digit display shows the voltage for each batteries being charged. When it’s charging, the green LED stays solid, when it finishes, it blinks rapidly.

To fully charge a 1S 460mAh battery at 0.6A, takes about 45 minutes.

And DO NOT charge LiPo batteries unattended! Click here to learn more about how to handle LiPo batteries safely.

The radio transmitter is simply bad. It works, but it just doesn’t work well.

There is little to none precision in the stick control. It’s like your inputs is either 0%, 100%, or a random value in between. The sticks are way too short to make precise adjustment.

It works better when flying in self-level mode (it’s called “Angle mode” or “Horizon mode” in Betaflight). When you panic you can just let go off the sticks and the drone would stabilize itself. But in rate mode (also known as manual mode), it’s very challenging. It almost feels impossible for me and I have been flying for over 7 years, I can’t imagine how traumatic it would be for a beginner. It’s going to be bad experience for someone new to FPV.

Luckily, you can bind the Novice-II drone to a proper radio transmitter, such as the Jumper T16.

My recommendation is, throw away the original radio.

If you must, use it strictly for self-level mode. When you have enough money, get a proper radio. You need one to practice in FPV simulators anyway, so it’s good investment.

The original radio is in mode 2, meaning the throttle stick is on the left, and it can’t be changed to other modes (mode 1, 3 or 4). It takes four AAA batteries which aren’t included.

You might notice the lack of switches on the radio, so how do you arm the drone? Well, you do so by pressing the push button on the top, and it toggles through 3 states, simulating a 3-position switch.

The state of the switch is reflected by the LED lights and a beep of increasing volume.

The two push buttons on the top are Aux1 and Aux2 (CH5 and CH6). You can also press the joysticks, and they simulate 2-position switches, these are Aux3 and Aux4 (CH6 and CH7).

By default, to arm the quad, you simply press the top left button once (switch value changes from 1000 to 1500). To disarm, you have to press it twice. (press once, switch value changes to 2000, and press again, switch value changes back to 1000).

Kudos to the software designer who came up with this idea given the hardware limitation. But really, they should have provided physical toggle switches…

The FPV goggles is the VR009. It might be the updated version of the popular budget goggles for beginners, the VR005.

The VR009 has two antennas, however that’s just antenna diversity, not receiver diversity. Without getting too technical, basically antenna diversity performs better than single antenna receiver, but it’s not as good as receiver diversity.

It comes with two dipole antennas and the antenna connectors are RP-SMA. There is no need to upgrade the antenna, the drone’s range is limited by the radio receiver anyway. For the best video signal, I find this antenna placement to be the most effective.

The FPV goggles has a built-in battery (1S 1200mAh LiPo), and it can be charged through the Micro USB port.

The FPV goggles is comfortable to wear. Although it is a box goggle, it’s neither heavy nor large. In fact it’s about the same size as my Fatshark! And the screen FOV is also bigger than my HDO, this is one advantage of the Box goggles.

However, the resolution of the screen is pretty low, you can almost see the pixels/lines, especially it’s been magnified by the lens. But it’s acceptable for analogue videos. I guess I am just spoiled by those higher end FPV goggles 🙂

Interestingly, I am near-sighted (-2) and I can see the screen perfectly fine without any diopter lenses. Well you cannot use diopter anyway, and you probably can’t wear your glasses while using this FPV goggle because it’s too small.

 

You can access the OSD menu for basic settings with the buttons, such as brightness, contrast, saturation and language (only English and Chinese). The OSD also displays the battery level and the channel it’s on.

The “Auto Search” feature works well, with a press of the button it will find your drone’s channel in seconds. It has an AV input and allows you to use an external video receiver.

Overall, this is an acceptable budget FPV goggle. The main downside is the lack of DVR, which means you can’t record your flight footage.

The manuals are very detailed and easy to understand.

On 1S, you can definitely tell it’s lacking power. For flying indoor like in a stadium, this would be fine, but it’s not going to cut it when flying outdoor. And by the way, it’s not really intended to be flown in your living room due to the lack of propeller protection. If that’s what you want to do, get a tiny whoop instead.

On 2S, the take-off weight is 77 grams, a little heavy to be honest, but it’s certainly a lot more enjoyable than 1S. The performance is comparable to the popular but more expensive Emax TinyHawk Freestyle.

Out of the box, It flies very locked in and handles the wind well (partly due to the weight), and it recovers quickly from dives without any weird behavior or wobbles (yaw washout).

You can only get the full performance out of the Novice-II when using a proper radio transmitter as it gives you more precise control.

I get about 2:00 to 2:30 minutes of flight time. Range is about 100 meters, which is to be expected with these built-in SPI receivers. (similar range from other models using the same FC with built-in RX)

Although you can fly the Novice-II out of the box if you want, I recommend making a few changes first in Betaflight Configurator.

First, download and install Betaflight Configurator, then plug in the USB cable to the drone (USB port is located under the drone).

The flight controller is flashed with Betaflight 4.0.4 firmware, board target is CrazybeeF4FR. There is newer Betaflight versions, but you don’t have to update it (probably a good idea not to if you are new to the hobby, as it might wipe all the configurations. Only do that once you become more experienced with Betaflight).

In the “Configuration” tab:

  • Disable “Motor Stop” (this will make motors spin as soon as you arm the quad, a good safety indicator IMO)
  • Increase “Motor Idle” to 8 (the lowest motor speed when throttle is zero, easier to recover from dives)
  • Under ESC Beacon, enable RX_Set (motors beep with buzzer, in case of buzzer failure)

And in the “Modes” tab, I made these changes:

Originally, you have to press the arm button once to arm the quad, then twice to disarm it, which is not ideal. With this change, you can now disarm the quad with a single press of the button, to avoid panic when you crash.

You can learn more about how to setup Betaflight here for the first time.

By the way, there are two UART’s available on this FC. UART1 is not used, and it can be configured for external radio receiver if you want longer range. UART2 is used for SmartAudio (VTX Control).

The Novice-II is setup to use Frsky D8 mode, and it’s bound to the radio out of the box.

But if you want to use a better radio, you can, as long as it supports Frsky D8 or D16 mode. But when you use D16 mode, make sure you disable Telemetry feature in Betaflight first to avoid “FC lock-up” (a known issue with some of these built-in SPI receivers).

Here is how to bind Frsky SPI receiver to radio.

Apart from the radio, this is a RTF kit that is worth considering if you are a beginner. Especially if you are planning to buy a proper radio soon, or you’ve already got one that will work with the Novice-II.

And it should make a great present too – Christmas is coming! 🙂

You can get it from: http://bit.ly/33H01O

It comes with everything, you don’t even have to touch the soldering iron once to enjoy flying FPV.

Pros

  • A truly ready-to-fly kit with all the necessary parts including transmitter and FPV goggles
  • The “Fly More” version comes with 10 batteries! More than enough for the average pilots
  • Decent hardware such as frame, FC board and FPV setup
  • Relatively safe to fly in small parks, you can power it with either 1S or 2S depending on how confident you are with your level of flying
  • It has an onboard beeper, as well as bright LED bars that can help finding the crashed drone (many more expensive models lack these features)
  • The included FPV goggle (VR009) is pretty nice as a budget option
  • Good manuals

Cons

  • It’s not the most powerful model – it works fine for casual flights and learning, if you are looking to race, this is not it
  • The radio controller is not good (see why above)
  • Range is limited (100m, 300ft or so) due to the built-in receiver – but that’s enough for most people I think
  • The FPV goggles works, but resolution is pretty low
  • You need to find a way to power the LiPo charger…

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