The HeliPal Storm is a true 250 racer. I got into drone racing almost one year ago and the Storm was the first racer that I bought. Today, I am even more into racing and have 3 racers…my Storm, a Walkera Runner Advance, and a home made racer that I built with parts I ordered online. And guess what…the Storm is still my favorite! There are many reasons for this, which I’ll cover in this review. But if you asked me to summarize why I like it, I’d tell you that it’s fast, agile and built like a Mack truck in terms of durability. Given that it is my first racer and I am still learning the ropes, I have crashed mine many times. And except for having to zip tie parts back to the frame and replacing a ton of propellers, this thing has held up like a champ!
First of all, the Storm racer ships ready to fly (RTF). When mine arrived, all I had to do was charge the battery, put on the props, put batteries in the remote and I was off to the races. The Storm comes with a DeVention Devo 7 radio, which seems to be a standard remote because it’s the same one that I got with my Walkera Runner Advance. It is pretty well balanced out of the box, although if you add a HD camera like the Mobius or GoPro to the front, you’ll have to move the battery back a bit to make it perfectly balanced. It comes with a couple of sets of propellers, but I definitely recommend ordering extras because the props tend to break pretty easily. I have tried a couple of different props, some 2 blade and some 3 blade with different pitch angles. The number of blades makes less difference than the pitch in terms of flight characteristics.
The Storm uses standard 3S 11.1 volt batteries with XT60 connectors, which is great because they are very easy to find and relatively inexpensive batteries. If you buy the FPV version, it comes with an angle adjustable FPV camera and 200mw video transmitter. I have found the range to be good on the video transmitter, however, be warned, the transmitter does not work with Fat Shark goggles. This transmitter requires Boscam compatible goggles. I ended up buying a Team Black Sheep (TBS) Dominator RX receiver module to put into my Fat Shark Dominator goggles. I highly recommend it to anyone using Fat Shark Dominators because it makes them compatible with many more transmitter frequencies…including the one that comes with the Storm! The Storm has a carbon fiber frame and responsive EMAX 2300kv motors.
|Camera||110 Degree FPV Camera with a 200mw video transmitter|
|Flight time||8 Minutes|
|Range||1,000 feet (300 Meters) for FPV|
|Max speed||40 mph|
|Motors||EMAX 2300 kV Brushless|
|Dimensions||230mm x 245mm x 60mm|
|Flight battery||3S 11.1V with XT60 Connector|
|Transmitter||DeVention Devo 7|
Quality of build
Ordering the Storm racer was my first interaction with HeliPal and I have to say that I was impressed with their process. When you order your racer, you select features from a series of drop downs on their web site. You can decide if you want the FPV or not. You can decide if you want battery voltage display, goggles, extra batteries, propellers and many other things as you order. Once your order is complete, you get a confirmation email and can log in to their site any time to check the status of your order. Mine took about 8 days to arrive in Texas from China. The package was well protected and everything arrived in working order.
As I mentioned in the introduction, this thing is really well built. After hundreds of flights and many crashes, the frame has held up very well. The components are protected within the frame and can pop out in a particularly hard crash, but because of how easy everything is to access, putting them back in is as simple as undoing a few screws and taping or zip tying the components back to the frame! The frame is also modular, meaning that if you break an arm, you can remove it and just replace that arm. Finally, the cable management is really clean and well thought out. Many cables are tied down to the frame, which keeps everything neat and aerodynamic.
Assembly and tuning
Assembling the Storm is a breeze. You just charge the battery, put the props on (be sure you get them in the right order) and put some AA batteries in the controller. Once you’ve done that, you are ready to go. I highly recommend starting out with a hover to get used to flying it. As I mentioned before, if you decide to add an action camera (Mobius or GoPro), you will have to adjust where you place the battery. Ideally you want to be able to hold the Storm with 2 fingers in the very center and have perfect balance front to back.
Another important note is about the FPV camera angle. I have found that it’s best to tilt the FPV camera up slightly because the racer tends to have its nose slightly down as you move forward. Luckily, this is easy to do…you just loosen two small screws on the side of the camera, find a good angle, and then tighten the screws. This takes a bit of experimentation, but believe me, it is worth the time to get the FPV camera angle just right.
One last thing that I did when I set mine up was to add some extra Velcro to the battery to hold it in place. The Velcro strap that comes with it is fine until you have a hard landing or crash. Without some extra Velcro, the battery can pop out of place very easily.
Generally, FPV racers are not for beginners, and the Storm Racer is no exception. While it is pretty stable, it does not have GPS. This means that it tends to drift around and requires constant adjustment to keep it in one place. If you are new to FPV racers, I suggest getting used to flying it without goggles first. Just hover in place to begin, and then start making big, slow laps around the field.
After you have mastered these things, then it is time to put on the goggles. In some ways, flying FPV is easier than flying without goggles. The reason is that your left/right orientation is always the same in FPV. The hardest thing for me to get used to was the somewhat glitchy video signal and constant exposure level changes. By that, I mean that you will see static in the video feed. This is normal. If the static gets so bad that you can’t fly, then you should change the channel on the transmitter and goggles. But if it is a good picture in your goggles with occasional static, then you should just learn to ignore the glitches and fly.
When I first started flying my FPV racers, I thought that static meant I was going to lose signal completely. However, I have come to find that is not the case and as long as I am in range, the signal will almost always come back. One other thing that is very important to remember is to warn other FPV pilots around you when you are going to turn on your quadcopter because the video transmitter can interfere with their reception. Racing with other pilots requires coordination and communication to ensure that everyone can clearly see their own signal…but it is totally worth the effort!