Walkera is a manufacture that has recently released many different products for FPV. Now, if you’ve read one of my previous articles, you will already know that I do not like their FPV goggles. Nevertheless, I got my hands on a Walkera Rodeo F150 Racer Drone to review. Enjoy!
Thank you to BangGood for sending us this drone to test.
As its name suggests, the Walkera Rodeo F150 Racer Drone has been created to race. It is 15cm long and 7.8cm high. This small size makes it quick and responsive.
Look & Feel
The F150 is distinguished from its competition with a nice colour scheme. The version that I tested is black and white. For some reason it reminded me of a cross between a panda, an Oreo and a grasshopper. Nevertheless, I actually quite like how it looks.
What I like most about the look is how all the electronics are covered with a plastic coating. This means that there are no lose wires hanging around making your quad look clean and clutter free. The ESCs are not visible, nor the flight controller, radio receiver and video transmitter.
The camera itself is mounted on a hinge which can tilt from horizontal to around 45°. I think that the camera gives this drone a futuristic feel since it has been embedded next to two circular LEDs. There are also two antennas that operate at 2.4GHz. These have been slid into thin tubes and mounted on hinges. This places them up during the flight and they can be lowered when the drone has to be physically transported. The hinge also acts as a fuse in case of a crash.
At the rear end of the unit there is a connector for a 5.8GHz antenna. Walkera provides a dipole type which you can replace. There is no hinge however for this antenna meaning it is more exposed to crashes. At the front are two white LEDs which are really powerful (they can easily be spotted in daylight.) But there are not LEDs on the rear which I find quite strange? It means that any pilots who are following you cannot see you.
There is a MicroSUB connector located on the right side of the F150. Just below that, there are two rows of 3 pins corresponding to a socket for PPM or SBUS radio receivers. This means you can replace the built-in radio receiver and replace it with something of your choice. You can also (although I have not done this) add an LED to the back of the unit if you have some basic soldering skills.
On the top of the unit there is a rubber tab that provides access to the 5.8GHz video transmitter. This is a team TX5833 model (on the model that we tested.) It broadcasts the video with a power of 25mW (compatible with EU laws) on 8 channels! The 8 channels are only on the usual 40 to 5.8GHz frequency. You therefore must ensure that your receiving equipment is compatible with the frequency band B: 5733, 5752, 5771, 5790, 5809, 5828, 5847, 5866 MHz. To power the F150, push up the “Unlock” button located at the back and then slide the hatch on the bottom. It reveals a compartment to house the battery with an EC2 connector. The battery is a standard 2S LiPo 7.4V, 85 mAh. This choice of battery does not really leave the possibility of finding batteries for sale elsewhere than the manufacturer.
Setting Up The Walkera Rodeo F150 Racer Drone
The F150 that we tested was Ready To Fly (RTF). It comes with a Devo 7 radio. Configuration is very fast and if you have any problems just resort to the manual that has detailed troubleshooting. I also liked how as soon as you turn on your F150 and radio, they automatically connect and are ready for operation. Just to make sure, I connected the unit to a computer via USB (provided) and I opened up Chrome Cleanflight Configurator (a plugin.)I checked the CLI and it told me that it was running Betaflight SP Racing F3. So basically, everything has already been done for you and you do not need to worry about setting anything up. This is therefore a great option for people who are new to the FPV racing world and don’t wan’t to trouble themselves with too much technical work.
However, there were a few little things that I decided to change. However these changes are not needed so skip this paragraph if you really wan’t too. I clicked on the “Profiles” tab to switch to Horizon Angle Acro mode. Also the beeper is not activated by default so I activated that. Fiddle around with the settings by following the manual they give you.
Before Taking Off
Once all the settings have been adjusted to your liking, you need to do is add the propellers. They are 3.7″ props. In practice, they are extremely practical – just screw them into place – no need for tools! Walkera still provides a key which is handy if you break a propeller and you have more grip to remove it (especially useful if your blades break.) However, it is quite hard to replace the propellers with makes other than Walkera because of the screw system. Therefore you have to buy spare props from Walkera.
Without a battery the F150 weighs 180 grams. With a battery it weighs 226 grams.
The first flight was done on the stabilization mode. The F150 remained very stable in a satisfactory manner. It responded to commands pretty well and when you push the throttle, it climbs very rapidly (much faster than I expected.) So we know that this thing is stable – but is it good for beginners? No. Whilst the F150 is stable, it is not a quad that is meant for learning about stabalisation and control. Also, aside from the stabalization, it provides no safeguards for flights – there is no automatic headless direction, no back to the starting point feature etc. This is clearly a quad for people who already know how to fly.
The F150, of course, allows you to fly in FPV. However, you need a receiver and glasses for FPV or a screen. None of these things are included with your purchase. The first FPV flights I did were performed with the stabilization. The camera quality is satisfactory and the wide angle is okay – however, nothing is spectacular. Also, I noticed that indoors, the camera quality is fine – the picture is totally fluid. However, when you go outside and accelerate a bit, there is a vibration in the camera. This vibration is very slight and is barley noticeable. Nevertheless, the F150 is very sensitive to win. Just a light breeze means that it fluctuates a lot.
I tried to figure out why it vibrated so much. Can we blame the stabilization mode? Yes, but only in part. In Acro mode, the vibrations are reduced by they don’t disappear. In Acro Mode it has a similar performance to the Falcon Eachine – it waddles in flight. This is likely caused by a poorly optimized PID settings. You can tackle the configuration via Cleanflight, especially as the unit has a 8MB Blackbox that records your flights. However, the result is not guaranteed and I don’t intend on spending several hours trying to figure out how to solve this wobble problem.
The F150 is fast and powerful which opens the door to Acro flying. However, the 2S battery does limit its performance slightly. You only get around 4 minutes and 30 seconds if you fly aggressively with this thing – 5 minutes if you are gentle on the controls.
Strength & Durability
How strong is the F150? It is made out of plastic and I have crashed it several times – quite violently in fact! The props have taken most of the shock, one of them has twisted. However, I have already cracked one motor arm and split off the battery door. Therefore, this is not the toughest drone on the market. Nevertheless, nothing is stopping this handicapped drone from taking off again. Despite its breaks and injuries, every time I go out to fly, it still works perfectly well. Therefore, overall the quad seems quite durable when it comes to absorbing shocks.
The size of the video transmitter is quite disappointing however. The first interference occurs at just 100 meters away at ground level with out obstacles. Total video loss occurs at less than 200 meters. With obstacles like a grove of tree, the range is even lower. An easy solution is to simply change the antenna for one with a larger range.
Should You Buy The Walkera Rodeo F150 Racer Drone?
Yes! I think that the F150 is undoubtedly one of the best small brushless racers out there that is ready to fly. It is far from perfect but is satisfying and enjoyable to fly! However, if your a beginner then I would avoid this drone since it is tough to fly.