TEST: Cheerson CX-22

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INTRODUCTION

After the real popular CX-20, the first cheap brushless 350mm AP machine. Cheerson introduces here it’s so long waited successor, the CX-22 still a 350mm AP machine now including a 2-axis brushless gimbal, a 1080P@30fps camera, a 7″ FPV monitor. As new features, the CX-22 also introduces the “follow-me” function thank to a dual GPS system, one installed in the quadcopter, the other one on the radio.

The review is in early stage, I am currently building it on the fly. Please wait at least a couple of hours to have something more or less ok.
Some informations, photos, videos, tutorials will be added/updated later

BOX CONTENT

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+ 1 x Cheerson CX-22 (with a 3S 5400mAh LiPo 20C, proprietary connector)
+ 1 x Transmitter (using 4xAA batteries not included)
+ 1 X 7″ FPV Monitor (with a 2S 2000mAh LiPo with JST connector)
+ 1 x 2-axis gimbal-camera-5.8G VTX combo
+ 2 x 5.8G dipole antennas
+ 1 x 4GB microSD card
+ 1 x USB microSD card reader
+ 1 x AVout cable
+ 1 x USB charging cable
+ 1 x Charger
+ 4 x props (2 CW, 2 CCW)
+ 2 x Screwdrivers
+ 1 x Instruction manual (English)
+ 1 x Transportation case

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OVERVIEW

As soon as you are opening the packaging, you will find the transportation casing especially designed for the CX-22

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Everything weights 6Kg !!!

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All elements are perfectly protected inside. I don’t think the casing is waterproof

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First remark, to be installed into this casing the landing gear and gimbal – camera combo must be removed so a little bit annoying for a daily usage IMHO.

The general design represents IMHO a simple evolution of the CX-20 but with a bi-color option (white-blue orwhite- orange)

With the first contact with the CX-22, you will notice the hard plastic used to build it, probably a recycled one and IMHO breakable to any moderate crash. All the canopy, landing gears and props use this type of plastic… A more flexible high quality plastic could be espect for a 650 USD machine. You can guess imediatly you will have to stock some spare canopy elements in advance.

-Front view

You find two big white eyes as for the CX-20

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The main visible difference is the presence of LEDs on the GPS dome.

With the gimbal-camera installed

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the ground clearance is around 0.5cm when the gimbal is in the worst position

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-Side view

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-Rear view

Versus the CX-20, now the the battery bay is much larger to welcome the 5400mAh model

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-Upper view

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The GPS dome is in plastic… For sure, it won’t resist to any serious crash

-Bottom view

The gimbal port offers 2 x +12V ports (one of them will be used to power the gimbal-camera combo), 2 x +5V ports associated with the pitch and roll gimbal control. The last plug is associated with the 5.8G part

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To connect your CX-22 to your PC, you will need a miniUSB plug (not provided)

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To attach the landing gears, you need to fix 8 hexscrews with the provided screwdriver

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You must must remove rubber black round parts to insert both diversity antennas

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For the gimbal, 2 hexscrews permit to attach the gimbal combo to the belly parto the CX-22

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Here are the connexions

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-Weight

Standalone, without battery, props, landing gear and gimbal-camera combo, the CX-22 reaches already 615g

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Props

Some 10″ self-tighting model “à la” DJI P3 compatible with shafts with two diameters, an inner one of 7mm and the external of 8mm. There are in the same rigid plastic as for the canopy.. so not really flexible to absorp a minor crash. In another hand, they can be installed without specific tool… It’s pretty cool

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versus the minivet model

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Motors

Some 2216 motors are installed. No KV indication are given

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Here are the dimensions of the different parts of the shaft

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ESC are 20A type, no precize information about max amperage peak, current firmware installed from ( http://www.fly-shark.com/ )

The new branch offers new features (TX, IMU, OSD calibration) in the new ground station software (http://www.fly-shark.com/Product?id=FlightTools&&Inf=OverView) and a standalone mission-planner (http://www.fly-shark.com/Product?id=SharkGCS&&Inf=Download )

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LiPo

A 5400mAh LiPo is provided expected to offer 20-25min of flight.

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It takes approximatively 3h to charge the battery

The lead connector is common to Phantom, Minivet only the location is different, on the top part of the battery.
In practice, it’s a little bit to extract the LiPo, you need a nominal hand-force to pull it.

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From the battery bay

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The controller of the battery.

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This one don’t offer a spacial auto-storage mode as soon as you don’t use your LiPo for several days (like the Minivet battery for example)

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Unfortunatly, out of the box my LiPo was not working. After 4s, the LiPo controller shut down voltage.

It seems the first batch of battery suffers mainly of this bug !!! It means, you won’t be able to fly your CX-22. My CX-22 was grounded 1 month until I decided to by-pass the battery controller.

I don’t advice to beginner to do it, it’s potentially dangerous if you provoke a shortcut by accident

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Here is the battery mod I performed

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The new positive pad to resolder your + main lead wire.

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When reassembled, you have to exit the balancer plug

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I also modded the charger cable with some T dean connector. With this configuration, I can recharge the modded LiPo with my Imax charger
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According the my Cheerson’s contack I talked, the new batch of LiPo solving the Firmware bug and more easy to extract is ready and probably already sold with last CX-22 batch.

Gimbal-Camera module

The video part is a 3-in-1 combo including a 2-axis brushless gimbal, a HD 1080p@30fps/720p@60p camera and 5.8G video transmitter? 166g for all the combo, it’s relatively light. A good point

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HoHem designed the gimbal FC. It’s the same compagny who designed the 3-axis gimbal of the wingsland minivet. The software is identical. Actually, the version 4.3 (attached below)

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All the settings of the camera are available via the 4 external buttons on it. Since, the gimbal must powered, it’s sometime a bit tricky to press button while the gimbal try to stabilize the combo. I regret, settings can’t be ajusted via the TX (as for the WSM). Options available to set the camera are classic: resolution, timestamp, timelapse and white balancing. I regret with the actually firmware to not be able to select between PAL/NTSC format. Actually only the NTSC FPV format is supported. To flash a new firmware (.bin), you just need to copy it in the root folder of the microSD, powering your gimbal combo (some indication on screen should be displaying during flashing). After flashing, remove your .bin file.

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One REST button can be found as well as a microUSB slot (cable not provided). The REST button can be used to set the horizontal level of your gimbal

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The DIP switch to select 5.8G frequency and band

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The first 3 switches select the freq while the two last ones the frequency band

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I will open the gimbal combo to check how easy would be to install a clover leaf antenna and what is the emitted power but I am afrait a CL installation would destabilize the gimbal’s work even with a very light CL antenna. More, I am not sure, there is enough ground clearance.

Dampening ball

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Maybe there are too soft or too small. You will see there are some remaining HF vibrations. Maybe some better model can improve this situation.

You will need a microUSB calble to connect the gimbal combo to a PC. No need to power the quad with the battery.
With the V4.3 of the software, here are default settings

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I found out of the box, my gimbal perfectly calibrated, no extra vibration especially in dead-end zones… good point 🙂

FPV monitor

A 7″ FPV diversity monitor with speaker, a max resolution of 800×480, a contrast of 500:1 and max visual angle of 140/120 (H/V). In practice, this FPV monitor look good but around 600g standalone !!! pretty heavy. You have the DIP switch located on the bottom right

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Via the menu, you can set the brightess/contrast/sound livel. I regret the absence of a DVR to record your FPV flights. By default, the CX-22 is set to the A1= 5865Mhz

A 2S 2000mah with a JST connector install in the battery bay

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Two dipole antennas are provided (SMA connectors)

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In practice, as soon as you are installing antennas orthogonally each other (one straight vertical, one in horizontal for example), the transmission range/quality was pretty good (versus my reception obtained with my Boscam GS922). In LOS, serveral hundred of metters without any problems

Transmitter

The CX-22 radio is more or less the same as for the CX-20. Also more than 500g for the transmitter, so the total combo TX+FPV monitor reach more than 1.1Kg!!!! It’s a lot IMHO and limiting the application of the follow-me function, well at least with the FPV monitor installed

You can find on the radio, 4 switch buttons: 3 x 2-way (SWB[0,1], SWD[0,1] and SWC[0,1]) and 1 x 3-way (SWA[0,1,2]). Two pots allow to control the gimbal in pitch and roll axis. Finally 3 panels buttons to enter in menu/telemetry and for navigation.

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Here is the table of the first three switches
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The SWD is dedicaced to turn on/off recording (pull on it) or to take a photo (push on it)

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The transmitter is now equiped of a diversity system (antennas orthogonal) and telemetry information displayed on screen, The range is announced to be close to 800m. Notice the GPS module is connected to the main TX PCB. The TX GPS information is send by radio to the CX-22 for the follow me function.

To be sure to fix satellites for the TX’s GPS, you have to set SWA1 and SWC1 before to use the “follow me” function

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To calibrate gyroscopes, you have to set SW{A,B,C,D}0 , being not armed and fast moving the right stick from the left to right until the LEDs are flashing fast

The main new feature for the CX-22 is the introduction of telemetry informations. Now you can read GPS coordinates, H/V velocities, LiPo voltages, current heading, number of GPS received… AFAIK no distance traveled or distance to home …. No trainer port (for a future firmware update)

Disassembling

To open the CX-22 is relatively fast with the hexscrewdriver

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The upper part of the canopy including the GPS module

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LEDs connexion

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We can guess the GPS module. I will update later with some precise photos of the GPS Module.

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Here, the four ESC, rhe receiver and the flying controller board from Bigshark/Flyshark, a new revision of the their X8. The receiver is connected to the FC via PWM connexions

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The dual antennas of the diversity system of the receiver

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The CX-22 comes by default with the V1.5 firmware from bigshark software (to be downloaded at: http://www.bigflyshark.com/Home/Product_GetFile?fpath=Product/SharkX8/S8_Assistant_setup.rar)

To be operational, you need
1) plug the microUSD to the CX-22
2) plug the CX-22 LiPo
3) turn on the radio
4) plug USB plug to the computer
5) run the assistant

The V1.50 firmware is probably the last one from the “V1” branch software/firmware

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As you can see, there is a default limitation of altitude to 200m. If you want to remove it, enter “0”.

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Only the Channel 5 seems active from SWA. SWA0 = 1500, SWA1 = 1900, SWA2 = 1100

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Software connexion tutorial video

With the V1.x firmware, compass calibration is a must to do as soon as you are flying in a new area

You have to quick alternate between SWA0 and SWA2 until LEDs are flashing fast

Compass calibration video

same information found in the official video

The good news bigshark proposes now a “V2” branch of their firmware and software

I didn’t installed the V2 branch firmware (I will wait compatibility confirmation for Cheerson) but the new ground station software is partially working for the real-time parameters monitoring

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With this new software, you will be able to assign the function of the switches. For example, we could add a pure “manual” mode with barometer and/or GPS assistance.

FIRST USAGE

Raw video

As you can see in these videos, I was positively surprized by the stability of the CX-22. Of course the altitude hold on stabilization is not as efficient as for example the XK X380 but it’s already pretty good. With the flight assistance, the CX-22 is not a sporty flyer as can be the Flying3D X8 in manual mode equiped with the same FC. Settings have been done to provide the most stabilized videos as possible. RTH works perfectly too. For the “follow-me” function, be sure to receive some satellites for the Transmitter GPS (set SWA1 & SWC1 to fix satellites before take off), but in practice it’s working well too. Thanks to this dual GPS system, the following quadcopter can be far from the radio’s holder

Concerning recorded videos, as you can see, there are still some remaining HF vibrations but the general quality is pretty good is far to be the catastroph announced by the first videos. I am sure perfect videos can be obtained with better dampening balls, a more optimized gimbal firmware with ajusted PIDs

CONCLUSIONS

First of all, until we have the full confirmation than the battery problem is solved, it’s urgent to wait before to buy the CX-22.
Being said, the CX-22 is also not perfect out of the box and I would said the first drawback is the presence of remaining little vibrations in raw videos. IMHO, this problem will be solved by a firmware update and/or ajusting dampening balls, for me it’s not a big drama. I regret also the relatively poor/hard plastic of canopy’s elements and the absence of a DVR in the 7″ FPV monitor. Paradoxally, I enjoyed to fly the Cheerson CX-22, it’s a smooth flyer and you got everything out of the box. The large screen is a big plus. The follow-me is efficient and allow to film the TX’s holder relatively far to capture the entire scene. I do believe the CX-22 is a good machine. Since you have to carry at least the radio (without the FPV monitor), the follow-me function won’t be adapted to any type of actions/sports since you need to carry at least the 600g of the radio and let the GPS antenna pointing the sky. Finally the main drawback is probably the price segment. Sold 650 USD actually (with shipping), the CX-22 is in sandwish between the Upair, the Wingsland Minivet and the Phantom 3 Standard. I won’t be surprized to see in a near future the CX-22 sold 550 USD.

UNBOXING

PROS

+ Full complete RTF package with a transportation casing. Nothing else to buy
+ Stable quadcopter, smooth to flight with
+ Default setting ideal for beginners
+ Mature bigshark firmware
+ Large 7″FPV Monitor
+ FullHD + FPV camera efficient (no extra latency or frame drop while recording)
+ Lightweight and compact 2-axis gimbal camera VTX combo
+ Efficient “Follow me” function
+ Mission Planner

CONS

Battery firmware can lock the battery !!!!
– No autostorage for the LiPo
– Hard to release the battery from the battery bay
– NTSC only with current camera firmware
– Remaining little HF vibrations in videos
– Landing skid/ gimbal must be removed for transportation with the provided casing
– Rigid/recycled plastic breakable
– Heavy TX+FPV monitor combo
– VTX antenna included in gimbal combo, no real possibility to install a CL model
– FPV sunshade clips fragile
– No builtin DVR
– No OSD telemetry informations displayed
– 100 USD too expensive versus similar models (Wingsland Minivet, Upair)

RCgroups thread: http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2528939

This quadcopter have been courtesy provided by Banggood in order to make a fair and not biased review. I would like to thanks them for this attitude.
You can find it actually for 650USD at http://www.banggood.com/Cheerson-CX22-CX-22-Follower-1080P-Camera-5-8G-Dual-GPS-FPV-Quadcopter-p-978296.html

EDIT: spare part start to be available: https://www.banggood.com/search/cx-22.html especially the “fixed” battery

4 Comments

  • onclefly says:

    Salut Seby, super super ta rewiev vraiment top 🙂

  • Hugues DAUZET says:

    Wonderfull review about Cheerson CX-22 !
    A few others questions :
    – what’s new about battery bug ?
    – I don’t find spare parts for CX-22 (battery, propellers, propeller protection, etc…). So, is CX-22 really ready to be sold ?
    – Do you know if there are european sellers (France or UK) ?
    Really urgent to wait before buying CX-22 ? What future for CX-22 ?
    HD

    • SeByDocKy says:

      – The battery bug seems solved since they are shipping a new model (bug free) but we have to be sure that this model is now included
      – It’s true no spare part yet but I think there will be. Cheerson is a big compagny.. I am pretty sure they will come asap. I will ask to my contact when they will be released
      – No I don’t know for a FR or UK sellers
      – Well I am working actually on the UPair review ….APM/Arduicopter based. Except if you want absoluptly the follow me function, you should also consider the Wingsland Minivet (reviewed here too)

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