TEST: SYMA X8C

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INTRODUCTION

Recently and surprisingly, SYMA very well known to produce toy-grade helicopters and quadcopters announced a 350mm quadcopter, i.e. the SYMA X8C. With this model, SYMA directly cloned both the design and the category size of the DJI phantom but also replaced the brushless motorization for a brushed system and remove all advanced features. The X8C audience is targetting beginners who want a cheap but stable video plateform able to carry a GoPro camera or an ultra light gimbal for mobius for example. The X8C I received was shipped with a 2mpx camera. A probably HD version will be also available soon.

BOX CONTENT

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+ 1 x SYMA X8C (with a 103.3g 2000mAh 2S LiPo, 25C T dean connector)
+ 1 x Controler (using 4xAA batteries not included)
+ 1 x Charger
+ 4 x Spare props (2 CW, 2 CCW)
+ 4 x Props guard
+ 1 x Camera
+ 1 x 4Gb microSD card
+ 1 x USB microSD reader
+ 1 x Instruction manual (English)

OVERVIEW

From an external point of view, immediatly you are impressed by the high quality of this mate shell’s plastic. This material seems very durable to absorbe main shocks/crashes

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Bottom view

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Each foot of the landing gear must be screwed by two screws

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The entiere skid seems relatively robust in case of hard landing.

A switch is located on the bottom side as well as a 2.5″ jack input to plug the camera module

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On the bottom side of each arms, a large transparant plastic is protecting LEDs

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Rear view

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The X8C weight standalone without LiPo, camera and prop guard starts from 448g so already a signifiant weight

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With the battery installed, the weight reaches 552g

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579g with the camera module

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and the total weight with prop guard is 601g

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Battery

A large 2S 2000mAh is provided announced to be 25C and weights a little bit more than 100g

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Dimensions are 82mmx33mmx19mm

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The battery bay is completly occupied by the 2000mAh battery

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Motor pods

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Propeller and prop guard

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Prop guard

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Motors

Clearly, the X8C used large brushed motors (close twice larger than the V262/V333/V666 motors for example).

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It’s very easy to access to motor, just 6 screws to remove. Motor maintance don’t require to disassemble everything. That’s a good point

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Concerning durability of such motors, no real feedback yet but for brushed motors, I advice to fly cool the first 2-3 flights few minutes
at least to “break-in” motors. I didn’t notice motors becames extremely hot after usage… so maybe a good sign for their durability.
Some small airflow inputs are cooling the motor part.

Camera module

The bulb camera have mini-jack plug

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In fact, the real currect camera in encapasulated into this bulb casing

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The camera lens have a narrow FOV (around 60 degrees imho).

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Luckely, you can install a wider model: the 808#16 lens D is suitable and offers 120 degrees of FOV. Whatever, the light sensitivity is not fantastic and light contrasts are poorly rendered in general.

Lipo charger

The charger provided is definitively very slow to charge the 2000mAh mode (more that 4h).

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Definitively, prefer a real charger to be safer

Transmitter

The transmitter have still a toyshy aspect but is quite large and can be well grabbed with hands

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The top shoulder button cycles between beginner and expert modes while the right shoulder button engages manual flips. If you press more than 2 seconds on the shoulder button, you can engage/disengage the headless mode. The headless mode is a “homelock” version. The heading is fixed when the quadcopter is turned on and whatever when you are engaging the headless mode, the reference will be same. IMHO, it’s very usefull for long distance flight, because the headless mode can be used as a “panic mode” when you lost the quad orientation. The vertical throttle trim, when pushed down is turning on/off camera while pushed up is taking pictures. The gyroscope calibration procedure consists in pushing both sticks in lower right position.

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Two antennas can be found installed on the RFchip (based on the nRF24L01 module) in order to increase the range sensibility. More the X8C is using the new SYMA protocol working with a datarate fixed at 250kbits (versus 1Mbits for the former protocol version). In practice by decreasing the datarate, you have a +[8-9] dBm of gain in the RX sensibility according to the nRF24L01+ documentation. Definitively, the 200m of range and more can easily targetted.

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FIRST USAGE

As you can see in this video, the X8C offers at least 12 solid minutes of flying duration that’s definitively a really good point for such cheap model. After usage, motors were hot but not burning. The X8C offers very stable flights ideal for carrying an HD camera and seems to be wind resistant thanks to its 600g and large props. With a ground clearance close to 10cm, a mini 2D-gimbal setup for möbius could be installed.

CONCLUSIONS

This SYMA X8C is an interesting flying object at the frontier between a toy and a real quadcopter. It offers pretty descent flying duration (> 12min) as well as the capacity to carry an HD camera and probably a very tiny 2D mobius gimbal. The SYMA X8C is very stable and strong resistant, have a relatively good range control and can be flew by a compatible DeviationTX radio. Of course, no modern features such as GPS hold on function or RTH so everything must be done manually. In another hand this product costs 3 times cheaper than a real 350mm model. My main concern is about the 2mpx camera module, not very efficient.

UNBOXING AND QUICK TESING

PROS

+ Ultra stable quadcopter
+ Close to 12min of flying duration
+ High quality manufacturing
+ Durable shell
+ Wind resistant
+ Easy motor mantenance
+ Good range control (> 200m)
+ LVC alarm (LEDs blinking)
+ Orientable camera’s lens
+ DeviationTX compatible (New “SymaX”protocol)
+ Headless “Homelock”

CONS

– Poor camera performances (narrow FOV, poor light sensitivity)
– Slow yaw rate
– 600g
– Brushed motors
– Long recharge time with provided charger

RCgroups thread: http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2351527#post30836317

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 112 USD at
http://www.banggood.com/Syma-X8C-Venture-with-2MP-5MP-Wide-Angle-Camera-2_4G-4CH-RC-Quadcopter-p-965758.html

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