Flying Dragon 2160mm Mapping Platform – review and tests
Yes, i know this review is long, long, long, long overdue, but finally im getting around to the flying dragon a truly awesome flying plane, though. Sadly, when i was getting it, i was not able to obtain the veto version. So this will be a review of the plane, excluding the veto capabilities. This has been flying for over a year now, if i remember correctly, so it has quite a few flights under its belt, and i can comment on its long term use as well as well as a comparison to some of the other long range, slash mapping models That i own and ive flown, but lets start from the beginning, as is usual for these planes. The kit comes in bits and pieces and you have to do 100 of the assembly, so not one for the beginners out there for sure. Only thing that comes pre installed are the wing and tail spas, which is due to the manufacturing process. Mostly, i rather like the fact that the wing spars have metal inserts in them, making them even stiffer and stronger, but wasnt as appreciative of the fact that there was no build manual for this and it did have a ton of parts. So one would have been quite helpful regardless soon i will have my blog post on the plane finished detailed as always, so those of you who are yet to build the plane will be able to refer to it. Link will be added to the description of this video when it is ready for the most part assembly was straightforward parts fit nicely and accurately they had provided plastic hinges, which i always appreciate a lot, even though i was going to make it a twin tractor.
I still glued in the nose motor mount because i thought it may come in handy at some point and it did but more on that a bit later on only thing that didnt quite fit was the bottom hatch. Either i cant figure it out or it is grossly out of alignment with the notch on the fuselage. So i cant see how a servo can operate there at all to open and close it. I am now using fiber tape to keep it closed. Some parts were left over after i put the plane together and i never did figure out where they went but seems to fly well without them. But here is one issue i only noticed very recently after one year of not very intensive views cracks in the plastic adapters on the wings and fuselage. This is, after a year of being assembled and probably about 20 flights, and luckily, as many accident, free landings for comparison ive had the clouds for a lot longer. It has had well over 100 flights. I would imagine no such issues with the plastics and, unlike the flying dragon, the clouds did have some rough landings, especially at the start of its career im. Not yet sure if i should be concerned about this and what may still break. But it seems like this part could have used some beefing up from the factory. Wouldnt have killed them to have made these parts a bit beefier and stronger, or perhaps a higher quality plastic.
In any case, this wont stop me from flying the plane. I am curious where this will go so other than these two issues. Ive been pretty happy with the assembly and performance of the plane. So far, initially i equipped it with a set of 31 10 700 kvt motors and 10 inch props on sixes, but these were kinda underpowered for the size and weight of the flying dragon. So soon after i replaced them with some 28 20 500 kv motors from eagle power and for some weird and unknown reason they stopped selling these shortly after that 2820 motors in that kv range are hard to find as it is. So why remove this option from the market bloody stupid decision? If you ask me, these motors can be quite efficient when paired with the right prop battery and airframe, as the believer has shown time and time again, so it is a pity they are no longer available. I also upgraded the escs to 60 amp hobby wings, not that there was a need for this, since even at full throttle current road doesnt, even reach 40 amps for both motors combined but better safe than sorry. You should also keep in mind that the servos needed for this plane are not the 12 gram ones, but the slightly larger 17 to 22 gram ones. If you want a good fit. I am using some very old blue birds, but the emacs es3054 would be well suited size wise to this plane.
Another interesting feature which i added was a video antenna retract system just like the one the clouds has which works pretty good. Currently i have a 350 milliwatt boscam video transmitter on it, not ideal. I know, but at the time of building this plane it was the only one i had available. I will replace it probably with the 3 watt akk one to see how it does it long range. The antenna is, of course, a pagoda and just a reminder that the video description below has all of the major components of this build listed. So you can go check them out there, and also my eventual blog post will feature a more comprehensive and complete parts list as well. Some of you may remember me losing the myfly dream crosswind pro plane due to unsuccessful mountain punching efforts and sadly my largest 6s lithium ion pack went down in that accident, never to be seen again, so i either had to build a new one or wire. A few lipos in parallel and of course i chose to build the new lithium ion one to get the most capacity for the weight, and this one is the largest so far, 6s 8p using samsung 35 35e cells. So it works out to about 27 amp hours of capacity at 6s and it weighs around 2.4 kilograms turned out a pretty nice pack, but this was now officially the largest and heaviest plane in my fleet. At the heart of it is a matec f765 wing funny, as it looks with its relatively small size, compared to the beast of a plane, it resides in control and telemetry were entrusted to the 433 megahertz dragon link system.
And finally, i 3d printed a nose piece to plug at the front where the nose mounted motor would go so it can hold the fpv camera, as i didnt really want to cutting glue stuff to the foam, and i do think it turned out pretty good. Only hd recording camera i had installed at that time was facing down through the bottom of the plane, connected to the second camera port on the f765 wing, and just like that, the flying dragon was ready for its maiden flight. There are cg markings on the plastic bits on the wings and i did balance the plane at that nose heavy just in case as usual, i decided to let auto takeoff do its thing, because it normally does work well, especially with large planes that are hard to Launch with one hand – and you need to put the radio down to throw them now. Imagine my surprise when i threw the plane and it headed down for the ground quickly getting there. Luckily, there was no damage, but this was quite perplexing at first. For the second attempt, i decided to take the reins and left auto takeoff out of it and i managed to get it flying in stabilized mode and it did fly well. But have you seen the problem in the osd already? It took me a while to notice it because i didnt immediately sit at the monitor, but rather fluid line of sight, and i did find it weird that every time i engaged an auto mode, it would turn in the opposite direction of where it should and head Down rather than up – and then it hit me since i generally mount these matic wing controllers with the back facing forward, i need to tell the autopilot that it is mounted in reverse, but i never did do that here.
I got the control surfaces working in the correct directions by playing around with the settings, hence why it could hold the plane stabilized, but only in non autonomous modes, that didnt require elevation change or turning literally, as far as the autopilot was concerned, the plane was flying Backwards, and indeed that was what the plane icon in mission planner was doing boy was that funny. When i figured it out, i landed adjusted that setting in the full parameter list and wouldnt. You know it. Next, auto takeoff was perfect and was pointed up towards the sky as it should be. Also, you may notice the dvr recording jumping quite a lot, even though i am flying pretty close to the ground station. That is actually the first time i encountered that interference, and it was the first sign of the issues that i have now with flying to the top of the mountain next to the city. Only back, then, i thought it was only a local problem, because i was using a weak video transmitter and a cloverleaf on the ground, rather than my usual directional antenna. In any case, i got the plane flying and despite the little mishap at the start, always good. Now – and it was flying pretty good, another deviation from my usual routine with new planes was that i didnt immediately do the stall tests to see how it would perform, because this plane is huge and it is heavy and, to be honest, i loved it and didnt Want to risk breaking it.
I know it wont really break probably, but something was holding me back from doing these tests at that time. So i quickly proceeded to do endurance runs. I really wanted to see how long it would fly with this huge battery, and especially with the new 28 2500 kv motors are installed shortly after the maiden oh yeah. Those motors had noticeably more grunt with the 11×7 props compared to the 3110 motors, despite the lower kv. I also moved the battery a bit further back for this flight to give the plane a neutral balance and hopefully improve the endurance results. So i drew a large squaring mission, planner loaded it up to the plane and let it run the mission for as long as the battery would last and keep in mind. This was the planes third flight and i was unable to get those 12×12 props that really make these motors shine and give superior flight endurance. Also even back then i was charging my batteries from either my workshop solar system or my field solar system. So, even a year ago, it flew literally on solar energy, so this was a green flight. Just saying for the green nuts out there, you can find out more about my solar ground stations set up in this video. Just in case you missed it when it came out, so the flight was pretty uneventful and bloody long, at least for what ive been able to do so far up until this moment, ive rarely been able to make a plane fly in mission mode for more than An hour and a half, but with this battery neutral, cg and 11×7 props, the flying dragon managed to stay in the air for 2 hours and 40 minutes and cover almost kilometers in that time.
For me, these were some pretty impressive results that beat anything else. I had up until that moment by a lot, perhaps the crosswind that got lost could have done around two hours with the lithium ion packet was sporting, but i never got around to making a proper endurance run with it before i lost it. So i would never know before this one i did an endurance run with the 3110 motors and 10 by 7 inch props and got under 2 hours of flight time out of the dragon. So i would say with absolute certainty that the motors and props upgrade did help in improving efficiency. Also, if you know the total amp hours consumed from the battery according to the current sensor are 26.3, which is pretty accurate in my book, especially at that no load voltage of the battery. So the matec provided current sensor settings for the f765 wings seem to be pretty accurate and i dont see a reason to change them at this time. I was happy with these new endurance results and knew what i could expect from the plane. I think it should be able to carry at least one more battery, though not sure if it would be of the same size and weight. If you can safely launch it with a 5 kilogram battery, it will carry it without issues and would stay in the air. For quite a while, though, such a flight time without a useful payload would be quite ridiculous, and just in case you are wondering, but what about the down facing camera? Well, i never flew high enough for it to record anything interesting actually, at least while i had it in there during the bottom of last year.
I thought it might be a good idea to flash the firefly 8se with the custom firmware available for it, which improves bitrate image, quality, etc, and guess what update failed and bricked the camera, and i havent been able to recover it to this day. So you know this only reaffirmed my conviction to not mess with stuff that works if it works, dont touch it dont know why i got confused. It might work here if you guys have any ideas on how to bring that camera back to life. I am open to suggestions. You can leave them in the comments below. In all honesty, though, no impressive footage was taken with it up until that point, at least not in this application. So, armed with the results of this last endurance run, i started thinking that it might be a good idea to strap the good camera to this plane and start having some real fun with it. And when i say the good camera i mean no other than the dji osmo action. It has been absolutely brilliant. Ever since i got it, the stabilization is outstanding and still holds up to this day and the image quality is the same. I cant even count the flight hours it has on various planes, especially the long range and high altitude ones, so it has been around and its still kicking and in one piece and i do hope it will stay that way for a long time to come.
I did want to use it, but i didnt want to ruin the planes foam surfaces, so i designed and 3d printed yet another piece for the nose, but this time designed it so that it would bolt onto the nose motor mount and serve as a gimbal mount. Yes, i decided to bring back my old feiyu tech mini 3d pro gimbal back into service, so designed this mount for it. It was a pain to remove all of the support material used, but it was all worth it in the end, as the result was quite nice and elegant and didnt ruin, the foam no glue was used for the mounting of this item. Now it did take quite a lot of lead weights to balance the gimbal with the dji osmo action on it, because it is longer and deeper than the old gopro cameras this was designed for but at least it had the same height, so it still fit the Bracket so back at the field, but this time on old world war, two nazi airfield the flying dragon took to the skies with this new setup and the results were pretty smooth smoother than ive. Seen in a long time to the point where it even felt a bit unnatural, but you get used to it as it does look really. Nice seemed like the dragon didnt, even notice the weight and drag at the front. It flew perfect as ever. This place is also where i finally mustered up the courage to stall test this plane, though of course i didnt bring an sd card for the dvr for this test.
So all i have is the ground footage, but i was very pleasantly surprised by how uneventful things were. First test was in a stabilized mode and, as you can see, nothing really happens, certainly no tip stores and this plane is easily at least 5 kilograms. But it does have a pretty good wingspan as well. Second, test was in manual mode, and even though it was a bit more lively in it still didnt go into a spiral, despite my best efforts to reduce its speed as much as i can, which was quite reassuring and then after a year since i build and Fluid i finally chanced upon the perfect cloudy day to send this puppy up there for some nice shots, and it was now perfectly equipped for the task 2., those that have seen the video which i released just before this one would have already seen this flight. But this is the best flight ive done with this plane in this regard. So far, so im going to use these recordings here again, while i talk for just a bit longer, a few people asked me to talk about how it compares to other planes that i have of this type. So i will try to do this and still keep it short so as not to stretch this video too much as it is quite long already when it comes to the xuav clouds. A comparison is not really fair, mainly because the two planes are into completely different leagues.
The cloud is noticeably smaller and more compact, much lighter and easier to handle and throw. It is a good deal more agile and even though it can be made to fly for long if it has to carry a payload that flight time will be compromised a bit and it would hardly hold a camera larger than a sony alpha of the smaller ones And i am talking out of experience compared to the clouds the flying dragon has at least twice the internal space. Comparing it to the believer is a bit more accurate because they are quite similar. The dragon is basically a slightly larger version of the believer, but obviously something had been done right since i have been able to make the believer tip stole without even trying, whereas i wasnt able to do so with the dragon. Also keep in mind. Larger size comes with more drag, so it is possible. The flying dragon may not be able to match or best the believer in terms of flight time, but it may be able to carry a heavier load more efficiently, which could be useful in certain situations. Also that nose motor mount is proving quite useful in my case, while the believer has nothing up front. So if you want to mount any sort of gear there, you would have to get to carving foam no way around that also compared to these two. The flying dragon is definitely a good deal more stable and smoother flying and the only plane.
I can compare it to in that regard. Was the lost my flight dream crosswind, even though its wingspan was 30 centimeters short of the dragons? It was by far one of the most stable and smooth planes that ive flown up to that point, and it was impossible to make it tip stow, but that wingspan means it will be able to carry less, though it does cost less than this pricey beast. The only phone plane that may have more room in it could be the mfe fighter, but im yet to get to building this one. So we will see how they will compare when i get there. In any case, the flying dragon seems to be able to offer some value in the aerial mapping surveying field, and i can only assume the veto version is a bit more versatile as to why the plane is so darn expensive. I really have no idea, but the current price seems to include the veto hardware, even for the kit version, with no electronics in it. So assuming you dont have to do any diy stuff to get it working might be a good value now, with this out of the way id like to say a word about todays sponsor skillshare skillshare is an online skill sharing platform, offering a wide variety of online Courses on a host of topics, for instance, there are a number of courses on how to design your very own pcb boards, which is a useful skill in todays world, or perhaps a course or two on how to design for 3d printing and how to 3d print.
Whatever your heart desires, which always comes in handy and its applicability, goes far beyond the rc hobby also, you may want to take up whimsical painting to calm your nerves, down from repairing your crashed plane all day long, for instance, since im now in the process of Renovating what would be my future home im finding these interior design lessons quite useful, which opens up a whole host of new ideas for me to consider? Basically, if you are looking to gain a new skill or a few skillshare is the place to do it. No ads, no nonsense, just learning in a great community, the first 1000 of my subscribers to click the link will get a one month, free trial to premium membership. So you can explore your creativity so have at it now im going to maybe try and get some mapping work done with this one. Just so i can say that ive done it as well as many other cloud chasing and mountain surfing flights, so make sure you are subscribed, including clicking the bell button, to get notifications to make sure you dont miss a thing until then. If you have found this video useful, please like share and comment or in any other way engage with this video as it helps to get seen more and helps my channel grow. Using any of the affiliate links in the description below to purchase anything from those websites. Will help support this channel and my family at no additional cost to you.
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