Review: Emax Tinyhawk Freestyle Toothpick Micro Quad

There has been a lot of fuss about the Emax Tinyhawk Freestyle micro quad, so I got myself one and try to find out what’s special about it.

See my other reviews of “toothpick” style micro quad.

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Emax Tinyhawk Freestyle comes with the following accessories:

  • Carry case
  • Two 1S LiHV LiPo batteries (4.35V)
  • USB Battery Charger
  • Two sets of Emax Avan 2.5″ 3-blade propellers
  • Spare screws, standoff, rubber grommets and nuts (M2)
  • Manual
  • Sticker

Emax Tinyhawk Freestyle Toothpick Micro Quad Accessories

Emax has taken the same electronic components from the TinyHawk-S whoop and put in this toothpick style micro quad. Additionally they added a 16V 100uF capacitor to handle voltage spikes, and the motors are now directly soldered to the ESC instead of going through the connectors.

  • F4 AIO FC with built-in 5A 4in1 ESC and Frsky receiver
  • 25mW VTX (37 channels) with SmartAudio (VTX Control)
  • TH-1103 7000KV motors running 2.5″ props
  • Supports 2S LiPo
  • Weight without battery 46g 53g

The product description on their page just makes me laugh, so much marketing cr*p 😀

“… unique power system… dual battery connector for increased power & flight time… aerospace grade carbon fiber frame…”

Anyway, in Emax’s words, let’s take a look at this “ultimate micro outdoor racing drone”.

 

Frame

The carbon fiber frame has a 115mm wheel base with white printing, supports 2.5″ props. It has a very stiff unibody design with 2mm thick arms, and appears to be durable.

Emax Tinyhawk Freestyle Toothpick Micro Quad Camera

They managed to lower the frame profile by using their own tiny little board camera, so they can put the battery on top of the frame, and move the centre of mass closer to the propellers.

This might have affected flight characteristics as often discussed in the FPV community, but honestly I can hardly tell a difference in this case, maybe due to the small scale. In fact it’s probably not such a good idea putting battery on top on these micro quads, because the battery lead is more likely to get caught in spinning propellers.

No battery pad on the top plate, so I’d recommend putting some on (anti-slip, rubbery material).

Emax Tinyhawk Freestyle Toothpick Micro Quad Side

Batteries and Connectors

So here is the “unique power system” Emax keeps mentioning 🙂 They are using two PH2.0 battery connectors instead of a single XT30. Not that unique really, many other micro quads do this, but the XT30 connector is more popular.

Emax Tinyhawk Freestyle Dual Battery Connector

There are pros and cons to this “dual-connector power system”.

It allows you to connect two 1S batteries to the quad, instead of using a single 2S battery. Their previous TinyHawk-S uses 1S battery, so people upgrading from it probably already have a bunch of those laying around. They can continue to use their 1S batteries on this new model.

PH2.0 connectors are known to impact performance, but it doesn’t seem to be that bad with Tinyhawk Freestyle. Upon closer inspection I realized these PH2.0 have “solid pins” which have lower resistance than the more common “open pin” PH2.0 connectors. Lower resistance = less voltage sag.

However with this power system, you should use two identical 1S batteries so you don’t accidentally over-discharge one of them.

Personally I would replace it with an XT30, because I have enough 2S LiPo, and it’s annoying to handle two batteries instead of just one every flight.

It even comes with an 1S battery charger that you can plug into a power bank or computer, which is really cool.

FC and ESC

The Tinyhawk Freestyle has an “AIO” flight controller (all in one) – FC, ESC and receiver are all built into one single board.

The motors are directly soldered on the FC and not using connector.

However, just like the Crazybee F4 Pro boards, or any other built-in SPI receivers on these “whoop style” FC, range is always an issue. I get about 150 meters of range from this quad, slightly better than the Sailfly and RedDevil thanks to the extended RX antenna.

Emax Tinyhawk Freestyle FC ESC VTX Board

Motors and Props

This isn’t the fastest toothpick micro quad, because of the above average weight (79g with batteries), and those 1103 motors are 7000KV which is pretty modest for 2S. But they do make a very efficient cruiser setup. With my currently favourite HQ Micro 65mm bi-blade props (which perform even better on Tinyhawk Freestyle), can give around 6 to 7 mins of flight time.

However these motors have an unusual mounting pattern (3 holes in 8mm diameter), you can’t use them on other frames, and the Tinyhawk frame also won’t take motors from another brand.

The included Emax Avan 2.5″ triblade props are some of the best triblade props for light weight micro quads, unfortunately not the best choice on this quad. They perform okay in the lower half of throttle, but perhaps too heavy for higher throttle on these tiny motors.

I think 65mm twin blade props are a much better option. They are push on props and don’t require any screws, making it a lot easier to change out props as well.

VTX and Camera

Both FPV camera and VTX performance are mediocre, but I can’t really complain at this price point.

The FPV camera is an tiny NTSC camera. Image quality is not as good as other nano cameras but is flyable. It rests on a rubber grommet to help reduce shakes and improve durability in crashes. The cut-out on the top plate allows you to increase camera tilt angle by moving the camera back.

Emax Tinyhawk Freestyle FPV Camera

Another thing that hinders range is the the VTX which can only output 25mW, which is okay for indoor flying, but doesn’t really cut it for an outdoor quad. I wish they could up the output power to 200mW in the future.

Emax made some effort in the VTX antenna placement – it sticks out from the side so it doesn’t get blocked by the frame and stays away from propellers. Good job there!

The instruction manual is very detail and well written. Good job Emax.

I am very picky about products, although I’d recommend this model, there are things they could have done better in my opinion.

The quad doesn’t fit inside the carry case with props on, do you know much work it is to remove and install those props with bolts on, Emax?

The double 1S battery connectors are annoying – between every flight you have to remove two batteries, and plug in two batteries. Those “solid pin” connectors are really tight, very hard to unplug sometimes. They really should have provided users the option to choose between “dual PH2.0 connectors” and “XT30”.

Range is slightly better than the Saifly, but still not ideal. Constant signal warning from the Taranis ruins the fun a bit. You can however connect an external XM+ receiver to the FC for more range, that will give you up to 1Km of freedom.

The next biggest disappointment would be the FPV setup. I mean, it’s flyable, but with a better FPV setup it will bring this quad to another level. Many people are upgrading theirs to a Runcam Nano camera and Eachine Nano VTX, why not just use some better components in the first place? I am sure people are ready to pay the extra 🙂

Lastly, most of the parts are not standard (camera, VTX, motors, FC/ESC), so upgrading/swapping components might be proven a bit more tricky.

This is not the best ultra-light micro quad, but it’s a very cost effective one. If I must compare it to another quad, it would be the Happymodel Sailfly, both are good value options, having very similar hardware and capability.

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The Sailfly can run both 2S and 3S, with those higher KV motors it will definitely outperform the TinyHawk Freestyle in terms of speed. The TinyHawk on the other hand is slower, but that also means you are less likely to break it, not to mention the frame is stronger.

Flight performance is much better than I expected given the above average weight, with flight time over 5-6 minutes. It has completely different flight characteristics than the original Tinyhawk-S: a ton more power, no prop wash, and it’s much more nimble.

If you don’t mind the “bad things” we mentioned above, it’s a good model that I would recommend.

There are two UART’s, UART1 is not used, UART2 is for SmartAudio. If you have an external serial radio receiver, you can connect it to UART1.

FC is loaded with Betaflight 4.0.4 (Jul 2019 release), firmware target is MATEKF411RX. I don’t see the need to update Betaflight as it might mess up your setting.

First thing to do is to bind the receiver to your radio.

Bind button can be accessed from the bottom of the FC, but i found it’s much easier to just enter bind_rx_spi in Betaflight CLI. It’s already set to D8 mode (Frsky_D in receiver setting) so no change is needed.

The RX antenna is loose out of the box, you should mount it with heatshrink and zip tie to avoid prop strike, like this in the below image works well.

Emax Tinyhawk Freestyle RX antenna mount

You might also want to unlock the VTX so you can access all the channels. Out of the box it’s locked to 25 channels, if you select the “locked” channels, the VTX will simply do nothing and you will be looking at a black screen.

To unlock the VTX, hold down the button on the VTX, then plug in the battery, and continue to hold the button for 5 seconds.

And you might want to change “Arm Angle” in the Configuration tab to 180 (default 50), so if you get stuck in a tree, you can still arm the quad and shake it out.

Change rate. Setup modes for arming and beeper. Finally, setup OSD screen.

That’s it! Have fun flying!

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