The FlexRC Owl Storm Edition is my new favorite FPV quadcopter. There – I said it! Feels great to get that off of my chest! Not to get too sentimental, but I love this drone! There are a number of reasons why I think that this drone is so great, but let me start with the main things. It is built like a little tank. I have run into a wall, a fence, the ground, and even a high power electrical line and this thing is barely scratched! The reason for its sturdiness is the design of the airframe.
Everything in this quadcopter, including the propellers, is protected by carbon fiber. And while it is a bit heavier than other quads of similar size, the powerful motors and 4S battery make up for the extra weight. In addition to its rugged build, it has a powerful 200mW FPV transmitter, a decent camera, and uses Cleanflight in the flight controller. While it’s not a beginner FPV quadcopter, I’d say that it is forgiving enough for new pilots to learn on and certainly zippy enough to keep the experts fully engaged!
As I mentioned in the introduction, this thing is very solidly built. All of the components are sandwiched between two carbon fiber plates, which keeps them protected and helps keep the cables out of the propellers. The propellers themselves are protected by the carbon fiber plates, which means fewer get broken. It has a 140 degree CMOS camera and 200mW transmitter for decent FPV. And unlike many cheaper FPV drones, this one comes with a nice clover leaf antenna that works well both indoors and outdoors. One other cool feature is the built in OSD (on screen display) that gives you a live reading of the battery and other vital flight statistics. While it looks like a brick, it flies like a champ.
The FlexRC Owl has the following specifications
|Camera||140 degree CMOS|
|Video Transmitter||5.8Ghz 200mW with Built In OSD|
|Max Flight Time||Approximately 8 Minutes|
|Flight Battery||14.8V 4S 600mAh LiPo|
|Weight||175 g without battery, 241 g including battery|
|Dimensions||118 mm Motor to Motor (Diagonal)|
|Motors||Storm 1306 – 3100kv|
|Flight Modes||3 Flight Modes – Angle, Horizon, Rate|
Quality of build
The Owl is very well designed and built. Because of the two carbon fiber plates, everything is well protected and “tucked away” within the belly of the quadcopter. The camera has plenty of visibility and is easy to adjust in terms of tilt. The clover leaf antenna is solidly connected and seems somewhat protected from crashes, although I suspect that if something were going to break, the antenna would be that thing. While losing a propeller would be rare, when it happens they are a bit more challenging to change out. This is simply because they are protected within the frame. Not a huge issue, but just plan on taking a bit longer to change out busted propellers if you happen to break one.
Assembly and tuning
My FlexRC Owl came as a “bind and fly” (BNF) version. This meant that I had to figure out the binding process with my FrSky Taranis X9D Plus radio set. This was not too difficult, but you might have to spend a bit of time searching online for the directions on how to do this. If you buy the “ready to fly” (RTF) version, then the binding process is not necessary. My Owl came with the propellers already attached and pretty much everything ready to go.
The 4S battery comes partially charged, so you’ll need to throw it on a balancing charger before you start. Also, you will want to make sure to find the correct 5.8Ghz channel on your FPV goggles or monitor. I was using Kylin Vision goggles for my first flight and they easily detected the video and locked in a nice clear picture before I took off. One other note – be sure you set your radio to “Angle” mode before you take off. This is the easiest flight mode and is definitely best for getting used to the Owl!
So I have been flying FPV for a few years now and, going back to my opening paragraph, I love flying the Owl. This is the first FPV quadcopter that I have felt really comfortable with and been able to take bigger risks with while flying. By “risks”, I don’t mean being dangerous, I simply mean flying close to the ground, through trees, under pavilions, and other maneuvers that I have always been afraid to try with my bigger and less protected quadcopters. Having the fully enclosed carbon fiber frame has emboldened me to push myself and to become a better FPV pilot.
In terms of responsiveness, this is more of a truck than a sports car. It takes a good amount of throttle to get it off the ground and it takes finesse to make sharp turns. But this does not take away from the flying experience. The 4S batteries and powerful motors give it plenty of thrust when you need it. The flight control is very smooth and the ESCs seem to kick in quickly when you apply throttle. And again, having the sturdy frame and small size, it is very easy to try new things and improve your flying skills.
My only complaint is that with only one in the back, there is a lack of LEDs on this quadcopter and it is very hard to tell orientation when you are flying it line of sight. Of course, this is not an issue when you fly FPV!