Best value quadcopter under $100: DarwinFPV Baby Ape
I assumed it was just another not very good, flying not very durable, not very worth a second look cheap chinese quadcopter, and i was wrong about that. So many of you guys reached out to me to tell me that this might just be the best value quadcopter under 100, but its 2022 now and that 70 quadcopter now goes for 80 and actually at the 80 price point, its got a really awful camera on It im going to show it to you later in the video and you can decide if you agree with me or whether im completely off base when you get the camera that i actually think you should get with it. It costs closer to 90 or 95, and that leads to the question in this day and age is the darwin fpv baby ape still the best value under a hundred dollars. Im joshua bardwell, youre gon na learn something today: Music Applause, Music, the darwin fpv baby ape that im reviewing in this video was sent to me by darwin fpv for this review. I have not received any cash or any other form of compensation in exchange for this video and no one has had any pre approval or conditions over the contents of this video before it was released. The baby ape fits into a category of quadcopters known as a toothpick and right now, some of you guys are a little bit annoyed that i said that because you would argue that a toothpick actually is something more like this.
Now this isnt, even the original original toothpick, which was literally a tiny whoop, that they took the tiny whoop frame off of, and they put it on a little frame like this and they flew it with their tiny wood motors. But this is something close to what a toothpick is. Today. It is an x style frame. It runs typically at a 1s battery originally and its got 3 inch props. But here is what might be my favorite style of toothpick, because this style three inch props. Yes running on 1s battery: no, i flew it with this 450 milliamp hour 3s battery or you can fly it on a 450 milliamp hour 2s battery to save a little bit of weight and give up a little power. But i was really happy with it on this battery. It has a top mounted battery, which means its going to fly more like a five inch freestyle quad in terms of its flight dynamics and for those who are interested in freestyle and fun cruising as opposed to sort of more racy style flying. This is just a really really great design for a quadcopter. Now weight is one of the defining characteristics of a toothpick, and this og toothpick, built by kebab fpv himself. Dont come at me in the comments telling me its not legit. It weighs 45 46 grams without the battery and 62 grams, with the battery and kebab says that the sweet spot for a 1s toothpick is right, around 65 75 grams and thats, where his ends up.
The baby ape comes in at 72 grams, 71 grams. Without the battery and 116 grams, with the battery hey its less than 250 grams, if you care about that, so there definitely are going to be people out here who question whether this should be categorized as a toothpick or something else im, not so big. On semantics, i just really like the way it flies. The motors are completely unmarked, but they are 1104 in size and 4300 kv. According to darwin fpvs documentation, they have a 1.5 millimeter shaft and the props press on only dont. Let the fact that there are screw holes here, fool you, the screw holes do not line up with the t mount prop. They just press on with friction, and i didnt have any trouble with these gem fan props coming off. While i was flying, i have had problems with press, fit props coming loose in the past and working their way off, but in this case at least for the time i was flying it, it wasnt an issue. Now you certainly could ask whether 1104 is the optimal size for a quadcopter of this size and weight, and i would ask you to hold judgment until you see it fly and that will be sort of the ultimate proof in the pudding moment. For that question, the flight controller has an f411 processor on it and, of course, wed all love to see an f7 processor running at the fastest speeds.
So we could run betaflight 4.3 at the fastest speeds and take advantage of all those new features, but in a quadcopter at this price an f411 is is as much as we can really expect. If youre running betaflight 4.2 youre gon na be fine running at a four kilohertz pid loop at betaflight 4.3, you might even have to drop down to a two kilohertz pid loop, depending on what features youre willing to activate. Nevertheless, the quadcopter flies fine as delivered and again were going to take a look at that flight footage in just a minute. I love it when manufacturers make their customers life easier by including documentation its not the most comprehensive documentation ive ever seen, but darwin fbv does give you a spec sheet and wiring diagram for their flight controller. The flight controller has an s, bus input pad with an inverter if youre, using a freesky or other s, bus receiver, and it has a spare, tx1 and rx1 pad if youre, using a more modern receiver like express lrs, ghost crossfire or tracer. Personally, i put an express lrs ep2 receiver in there. That is the whole receiver right there stuck to the top plate, including the antenna. This little gray box here is the antenna and im actually putting these 2 receivers in all of my micro quadcopters. The small size and integrated antenna makes them so so easy to mount dont. Let that small antenna fool you. The range of express lrs is more than youre ever going to need for a quadcopter of this size.
I actually made a tutorial putting the express lrs receiver in there and, if youre interested in following along, there will be a link down in the video description. As always, the video transmitter is mounted here to the top plate. Make sure you keep that in mind. If you take the top plate off to do maintenance, dont tug those wires go ahead and just carefully unplug them and watch out for the antenna as well. The antenna runs to this 3d printed holder in the back and, if you just rip the top plate off, you could pull this ufl cable, which goes to the video transmitter im, not a big fan of mounting things to the top plate. Most of the time, for that very reason, but on a quadcopter of this size, i think some compromises are unavoidable. The video transmitter has a zero milliwatt pit mode and it does have smart audio support, so you will be able to change the band channel and power through the betaflight osd or any of the other smart audio ways of managing the video transmitter. It goes up to 200 milliwatts which lets face it. We could hope for more weve, seen quadcopters in this rough size and weight class with 400 milliwatt, video, transmitters and obviously 400 is more than 200 on 200 milliwatts youre gon na get okay range. Didnt find the range to be exceptional, especially maybe you could upgrade this antenna and maybe help your range just a little bit.
Nothing to complain about, but youre, not gon na be going super far from home or going through 17 different walls on this specific setup. Frankly, i think this setup would actually be right for uh for sharkbite for hd zero, like i think it would be. You could put a 25 millimeter or even a 20 millimeter hd0 video transmitter on here and uh get super super arranged. Let me know down in the comments if thats something you think youd like to see me, do i dont know how much interest is there in that kind of thing, the frame is made almost entirely of 1.5 millimeter carbon fiber, except for the arms which are 2.5 Millimeter uh: this is pretty standard in this size and weight class and, as far as durability goes its unlikely with a quadcopter. This heavy that youre going to be just crashing hard enough to just explode an arm, its more likely that youre going to experience, slow degradation and wearing out wallowing out of screw holes and so forth over the course of many. Many crashes definitely check your screws. After your first and second and every flight, because i had like you can see right here, i am missing two theres supposed to be four of those im missing, two of them because theyve fallen out because i went just flying and when i went and checked i Had several others that were loose by the way they are phillips head screws theyre, not hex screws, thats, pretty standard on quads of this size, because theyre lighter as long as were under here.
If you cant find the usb plug on this thing, its on the underside yeah, it took me a minute to figure out now the last part of this quad we got to talk about before we get to the flight. Footage is the camera and the reason this review took me so long to get out. Is they sent me this quad months ago i took one pack on the standard camera and i barfed in my mouth a little bit and said this is im not reviewing this. Please send me the upgraded camera and they did, and if you dont believe me, if you think, im overreacting, take a look at this sample. Footage here is the original camera. Now i know ive seen footage from the original camera that looked better than this on other peoples, channel im gon na guess they caught the quad on a sunny day or they caught it just right. But this is just the day i went out to fly, and this is what the footage looked like and i was like this is just so bad i dont feel like i could have a great time flying. On the other hand, this is the so called pro camera its the caddix ant, which is a well established, good quality, uh camera in this size, class and uh. I dont think anybody would argue that this isnt better now the big question is: is it worth the uptick in price, because the baby ape is about 80 with a standard camera and its about 90 92 with the upgraded camera? I think its like totally totally worth the upgrade, and i would strongly recommend you to do it.
In fact, if i just saved you ten dollars having to buy the camera aftermarket, then can you go down and just uh hit that like button for me right now as a way of saying thanks, itll help, other people see this video and not make that same Mistake now, if you do take my advice and get the upgraded camera, you are going to run into a little bit of trouble. First of all, the width of the camera, its not the standard 14 millimeter width between these two camera plates ive actually got some little rubber washers that came with the caddix and in here and its its holding it okay, but at first i didnt realize that they Needed to be there – and i was like – why is this thing, not the right width? The other thing that youre going to run into is that there is not as much room here the original camera that comes with it doesnt have plugs. Do you see the plug right here for the camera and this plug actually bangs into this standoff, and you can kind of just go jam it in there and get it to up tilt and its not a big deal, but it certainly is noticeable. I also want to point out that this is about as much up tilt as you can possibly get with the upgraded catex ant. Camera theres plenty more room here where you could get more up tilt but for whatever reason, its just its bumping up against some part of the frame im, not exactly 100 sure where and you just cant get any more.
So if you really love flying at high up till 35 45 degrees – well, this probably isnt the quad for you anyway, but if you prefer flying out lower up tilt like 20 25 degrees for sort of freestyle, cruising itll be just fine and i got ta tell You guys this thing flies really good. They were totally right when they said it flies really good for a little micro. It flies really good, like im, just flying, especially for a little toothpick quad like this. The absolute kindest thing you can say about it is that its not getting in the way of what you want to do with it that youre just flying and having a good time, and that is especially true for somebody like me, who spends most of my time Flying five inches, so all of the things that i think to do the lines that i fly, the moves that i want to do: theyre five inch lines and moves, and normally, if i try to fly a little three inch, toothpicky quad, i have to oh well. I cant put it in a tree and normally when i fly little three inch quads, i have to really compensate. I have to really think about. Oh its smaller it doesnt have the speed it. Doesnt have the power it doesnt have the agility it doesnt handle like a bigger quad and no im not trying to sell you guys that this thing, oh it just, looks like a 5 inch, but it is really its really nice to fly its really nice to Fly Applause im so impressed like all of the moves that i want to do are just totally doable, and that is usually not the case for a three inch with me.
For me, these big power moves like this its not i dont know. I mean like its objectively, not a super powerful quad, oh hello, but uh its getting it done something about the weight, the power, the props, its just getting. It done reasonable handling reasonable, prop wash handling through that oh geez, okay, so, okay, so i guess im a little spoiled flying dji and shark bite because i keep flying into these stupid tree branches and not being able to see them. I dont think thats really a slam on the camera. I think the camera is about as good as an analog camera is going to be. I just think my sort of mental expectation for what i can and cant see is uh not quite calibrated for analog anymore. Originally, what made the darwin fpv baby ape so appealing was its low price, not that the quality wasnt there, but its a lot easier to be judged as good quality when youre also super inexpensive. The question we were wondering at the beginning of the video was: is that still true with the 90 price of the quadcopter, with the upgraded camera which i think is well worth it and with the 2022, everything is more expensive now uptick? Is this still worth getting and i think you got ta ask what else is out there at a price of ninety dollars? That is better than this im hard pressed to come up with anything. So if youre interested in picking up the darwin fpv baby, eight theres links down in the video description, they are affiliate links.
Youve heard me talk about that before. I would encourage you to click those links before you make any purchase at the affiliated vendor, but heres. The the real question that you got to consider would you rather pay closer to like 130 dollars for a quadcopter like the uh beta fpv hx115lr, which has bigger motors that have bigger motors it has built in express lrs, and it also flies pretty darn good. I did a review of that quadcopter its up on my channel ill, put a link in the video description as well as a little pop out card here as long as youre here at the end of the video.