TEST: Hubsan ZINO

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INTRODUCTION

Better late than Never…. Here is my review of the Hubsan Zino. This is a foldage 3-axis stabilized 4K@30 video plateform. The FPV link is done with a specialized 5.8G connexion. Main caracteristic are solid: about 700g, 23 min of flight time and about 1km of control range. No obstacle avoidance sensors or VPU unit. The main positive point is its price!!! less than the half of a DJI mavic. Of course many many brands try to “wannabe” DJI … Almost all failed. This review comes after 3 months of the introduction of the Zino. First reviews shown a very bad GPS altitude hold performances, some toiled bowling effect and even some fly aways… We will see if with the new batch machine I received, flashed with last firmwares, the situation is improved. Here is my first elements of my review.

BOX CONTENT

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+ 1 x Hubsan Zino
+ 1 x Transmitter
+ 3 x USB charging cable
+ 4 x Spare props (2 CW, 2 CCW)
+ 1 x Power unit
+ 1 x Charger (15V, 1A)
+ 1 x Screwdriver
+ 1 x Instruction manual (English)

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Three USB cables are provided. One for iOS, one with USB-c and the last with a microUSB. Seems they are specialized cable and not simple OTG.

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10cm only…. They are too short if you plan to use a tablet with a DIY holder.

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Important, you can replace this cable with a simple microUSB to microUSB cable. You will need a cable extender plugged from one of these three cables.

OVERVIEW

-FRONT VIEW
Unfolded, we have a 350mm machine. Everything is fully plastic based for the structure. The general quality of the plastic is average more hard than flexible. We could expect more quality for the plastic.

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A plastic dome covers and protects pretty well the 3-axis camera-gimbal system

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I received the last batch model since the camera house got now a square shape instead of a circular one.

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-SIDE VIEW
The left side shows respectively from left to right: a led light showing the camera activity, a microUSB port to flash a new camera firmware and the microSD card slot. Prefer a fast U3 card, for example a 32GB formated in FAT32. If you plan to use a larger model, you will need a specific software to format the card.

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-REAR VIEW
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-UPPER VIEW
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A unique power button. Press and hold 5s this button to turn on or off the Zino. When turned on, the Hubsan delivers a very treeble sound almost unaudible.

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-BOTTOM VIEW
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-WEIGHT
710g with the battery.

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Motors and props

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Battery

A 3000mAh 3S LiHV battery with a specialized connector.

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No specific led status to visualize for example the amount of remaining of charge. It’s not a big deal, but the more important is more the presence/absense of a autostorage buitin circuit when the battery is parked for several day

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With the original charger, it takes more than 2.5h to fully charge the battery. It’s super long …. The leds are solid red when charging and becomes solid green when it’s done.

It’s strongly advise to build a DIY 3S balancer plug with a lead power connector. Here is mine.

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It can be used to fine balancing all of the three cells. Important, when I used my own cable, I noticed that the cells 2 under load presented a voltage drop of -0.2V versus cells 1 and 3. I don’t know if it’s linked with the builtin electronic board biasing the voltage reading.

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Camera module

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The gimbal system is dampened but the immediate feeling with this gimbal is its fragility…. Be sure from a medium shock on the system, the gimbal will break.

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The sensor offers to record video in 4K up to 30fps. Same for the 2.7K resolution. From 1080p, faster fps are offered (60fps).
With the original camera firmware, the datarate is around 40Mbit/s.

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Transmitter

The transmitter is a Mavic inspired model with the possibility to attach directly a smartphone but not a tablet out of the box.
Everything is white…. even the buttons. It’s super hard to guess the logo printed on them especially with strong lights. So in practice, you will have to loose 3-4s to guess the role of each buttons.. There are small also. The general plastic quality is not good. It’s more a toyquadcopter transmitter than a >350USD one.

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Even worse, the sticks are fully plastic. No possibility to install some metal models. Springs are weak… Controls are imprecize. For example, it’s hard to keep a full straight one …. I don’t like the transmitter. Unfortunatly, it’s a new protocol developped by Hubsan. No possibility to control the craft with a DeviationTX compatible radio.

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The pitch of the camera can be control via this left dial. Until last firmware, this control was very touchy. It’s solved with last updates where now you can tune the rate by yourself.

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The specific microUSB port used to charge the builtin battery and to connect the transmitter to your smartphone

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A 5 pin port. This one is important if you want to flash a new RC firmware. Unfortunatly, you will need to short the two left pins. One safe solution is to use a 1.5mm JST 2positions cable.

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A maximum of a 6.3″ can be installed. If you plan to install a tablet, unfortunatly the dimensions of the transmitter are incompatible with all Mavic tablet holder available.

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You will need to mod yours. Here is my mod but better solution can be obtained without problem

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As said proviously, you need to use the original cable with a cable extender. No possibility to install directly a 20cm OTG cable for example. It’s not working.

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UNBOXING, ANALYSIS AND TESTING

The first video is the unboxing and the introduction of the “X-hubsan” appz. This latter unify all WiFi based Hubsan product. It’s a very good application in general. For example, the waypoints definition for mission planning is simple. The orbit mode also offers a lot of options. It’s great.

As the Hubsan Zino is known to have poor GPS hold stability, be sure before each take-off to perfom locally a compass calibration. A minimum of 9 satellites is required to take off (You can fly without GPS assistance, but you have to turn off the corresponding option in the settings). This second video shows the general performances of the machine in term of GPS hold, video stabilization and advanced flight modes. If I can confirm that the GPS hold is not beyong the best, it’s not also catastrophic, at least with moderate wind conditions. The z-elevation deviation is about 1.5m and is more severe when the machine is below 3m high. The x-y deviations are about 1m.

For the video stabilization, the performances are great….. No real complain/vibration can observed. That’s the most positive point. With the original video firmware, if the color rendition is good, the video is not super sharp especially for the background scene. Trees and branches are blurred for example whatever the resolution. In term of FPV distance, with the original firmware, seems there is a 1Km geofence barrier. For the advanced flight modes, the visual tracking model is just working great…. I liked the fact that if he lost the track, he offers to you a target re-association solution. The orbit mode works perfectly also.. One can regret the lack of specialized selfie flight modes “à la DJI”. The flight duration was reported in practice between 22-23 min. If you are using the original charger, it’s advised after a first charge, to restart the charging procedure after a couple of minutes. Some extra mAh can be stored in this way.

With last firmwares, a new video setting is available where the datarate is increased correspondly

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With these last updates, when the sharpness is set to maximum, the general quality is improved… I even found the gimbal stabilization also improved. In another hand, no real improvement for the GPS hold stabilization. It’s not a drama but it will be for example hard to have a stable selfie video in low altitude, i.e. the machine will move constantly.

Another new introduction is the possibility to monitor the SNR of each available 5.8G WiFi channels and select the less noisy. Of course in order to maximize the video link range. I was also able to go beyond 1 km. I am pretty sure some with some windsurfer installed on both antennas, we can go further.

CONCLUSIONS

Clearly the Hubsan Zino suffered of some imature firmwares linked with a too early introduction. Probably hubsan knew than Xiaomi will delivered soon the X8 SE. In fact the Zino is blocked between the Xiami A3 and the X8 SE. If you are looking for a brainless RTF machine ultra stable and durable, probably go for the Xiaomi A3. Anyway, if you want more advanced flight modes, a better gimbal stabilization and camera, finally flashed with all last firmwares, the Zino is a good machine and can be recommanded. It’s not an amazing plateform but a good one. Orbit mode, waypoint planner and visual tracking are really efficient. The flight duration of 23min checked in practice is good enough. But be sure with the Zino that you will need to perform each time a solid compass calibration before each take off. Actually thanks to the code f7c8f3, the Hubsan Zino can be found around 238 euros/290 USD… so more or less the same price as the Xiaomi A3.

PROS

+ Great Gimbal video stabilization
+ 23 min of flight time
+ Foldable
+ 710g
+ Good iOS/Android appz
+ Good visual tracking
+ 4K@30 resolution
+ Nice videos (improved with last firmwares)
+ Relatively cheap

CONS

– Not ultra precize GPS-hold (improved with last firmwares)
– Potential toilet bowling effect (improved with last firmwares)
– Some reported fly away (mostly with first firmware releases)
– Loose 4-5m of altitude after a fast u-turn (fixed with the last firware 1.1.48 update)
– Poor plastic quality for the transmitter
– No color printed TX buttons/hard to guess with strong day lights
– Imprecize transmitter controls/sticks
– Need to turn on developper/USB debugging for android connexion
– 1Km max distance hard-coded into the Zino’firmware (fixed with the last firware 1.1.48 update)
– High compression/blurred background details (new “sharpness” option available with last firmware increase the datarate)
– Props occlusion from mid-forward speed or fast turns
– Need sometimes multiple USB plugging/unplugging to retrieve the video feedback
– Need an extra 1.5mm JST XH plug for the TX’firmware update procedure
– Long battery charging (>2.5h)=>Need to special 3S balancer plug for professional LIHV charger usage
– Short USB cables (10cm only). Impossible to plug directly with them a tablet
– Real 4K sensor?

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– No obstacle avoidance sensor

This quadcopter have been courtesy provided by Banggood in order to make a fair and not biased review. I would like to thank them for this attitude.
You can find it actually for 290USD (code f7c8f3 ) at https://www.banggood.com/Hubsan-H117S-Zino-GPS-5G-WiFi-1KM-FPV-with-4K-UHD-Camera-3-Axis-Gimbal-RC-Drone-Quadcopter-RTF-p-1361281.html

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