TEST: Walkera Runner 250 Advance with GPS

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INTRODUCTION

Just 3 months after the release of their first popular 250mm RTF racer, walkera now offers a new version/revision model, the runner 250 advance including now some flight assistance via a GPS/Glonass module. The “Advance” version introduces also some changes versus the original design.

This article is still under construction and I will add asap some important/missing elements. I wanted to share with you my first impressions/conclusions but please notice, there is a lot to add. Expect something converging I hope before 1 week.

BOX CONTENT

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+ 1 x Walkera Runner 250 advance (with a 3S 2200mAh, 25C LiPo using a XT60 connector)
+ 1 x Devo 7 transmitter (using 8xAAA batteries not included)
+ 1 X Transportation bag
+ 1 x Anti-sliding rubber band
+ 1 x Charger+power unit
+ 1 x Trainer port cable
+ 1 x Allen keys
+ 1 x Instruction manual (English)
+ 1 x CDrom

OVERVIEW

Now the new edition comes with a transportation bag

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The total weight with the transporation bag is under 2Kg, really easy to carry in any conditions and/or for long walk distances. A Nice initiative

Externally, the runner 250 advance (RA) introduces a visible change vs the former one: a huge front plastic bumper protecting the 800TVL/HD cam module
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Now, on each arms you can find also some latteral LEDs indicating to other pilots in which direction the RA will turns. A nice feature for FPV racing
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Here is a direct comparaison with the former edition

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-Front view

A large plastic bumper is now protecting the FPV camera lens

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As you can guess, part of the video is hidden now with the new guard

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Espacially when inclinaison is positive where the video is hidden latterally and on the top part

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Really strange bumper design ….

-Side view

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Versus the former edition, now the battery is blocked in more or less in the central position in order to

1) Center the COG
2) Avoid damages, especially for the camera module in case of hard frontal crash where the LiPo would be catapulted front

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To reduce even more slicing effects, a rubber band is provided to be installed below the LiPo

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On the front left part, a buzzer is now installed. In practice not so loud when engaged (TX off for example)
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-Rear view

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Now compared to the first edition, the two status LEDs are no more synchronized each other. The left one is more indicating the GPS status while the right one more the arming/calibration status.

For example the left LEDs reports how many satellites (GPS + Glonass I guess) is currently received

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The right LEDs indicates more the arming status and the different calibration status

GPS module

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The GPS module is in plastic, be sure, it will break as soon as the RA will flip on back in case of crash…

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The module is also announced to receive the russian satellites. In practice, I didn’t notice any real improvement versus pure GPS module. No HDOP informations unfortuantly are displayed on the OSD.
When the number of stallites is 0, the GPS assisted mode is automatically turned into manual mode.

-Upper view

Now RA clear reference is appearing on arms

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-Bottom view

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notice the presence of rubber feet, a minor improvement for the RA

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629g in total

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versus the 596g of the runner first edition

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Unfortunatly, the thickness of all plates remain the same: less than 1mm for all the three horizontal plates

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Just around 1mm for the battery plate when this one must also carry more than 200g of the LiPo !!!
As for the Runner 250, this is Achille’s heel of this machine. Think to stock spare ones and/or to double the bottom one by gluing an extra one and/or to add some vertical standoff to transmits parts of the forces to the upper structure parts

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Only arms are 3mm

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More, frame elements are still not in 100% carbon. !!!!!

Motors

Still some 2814 brushless motors but not announced to 2500Kv versus 2100Kv for the first edition

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Props

Some new 6 inch props are now included: lighter without being more fragile
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versus the former model

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ESC

Still the same 15A ESC
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LiPo

A 2200mAh capacity model with XT60 connector and rated 25C. The battery as for the runner original.

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Camera module

5.8G 8CH Video receiver

The TX5816 is the (non-CE) version emitting more than 200mW. The Walkera module is a 8CH model working on the rare “B” band and the default channel is B8 = 5733MHz

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OSD module

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Now the OSD module display much more informations coming form the GPS module

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As you can see, you have a lot of informations now very useful. I noticed two potential problems:

1) For some video receiver, the last bottom part of the screen is not displayed so impossible to read/record GPS coordinates
It’s working, in fact, you need to be sure that your receiver is in PAL mode
2) As you can see in the FPV video demo, time to time, the GPS coordinates “jump” to another location probably linked with a bad reception.
I would expect such outliers would be filtered.

Flight controller

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The same FC, multiwii based (8bits MCU). I noticed when I plugged it the first time on my W8.1 machine with a microUSD cable (not provided), the FTDI drivers bricked the serial controller
I had to reinstall manually some old drivers. The main visible difference with the former edition are the lables written nearby each port.
The multiwii version I used to connect the RA is the V2.4: https://code.google.com/p/multiwii/

To install manual FT232RL driver (for W8++)

Transmitter

The Devo7 reprensents the standard entry model from Walkera

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A large model easy to grab but a little bit heavy IMHO especially with the 8xAA batteries inside. More, this remote eats fast batteries.
Personnally, I plugged a 1900mah LiFe battery inside.

On the left top part of the radio, you will find a one 3-way switch, one 2 way, one pot while on the right part, two 3-way and one 2-way. For the basic version with the 800TVL cam, the more important switches are the right one. The MIX select the flight mode: MIX0 is the GPS assisted flight mode holding the quad in position when throttle is fixed to 50%, MIX1 is the manual flight mode and MIX2 actives RTH. The D/R button is in practice not configured by default in multiwii (whatever DR0 or DR1, A,E,R are between 1100 and 1900). The last switch FMD selects between “horizon”(FMD0) and “accro” mode (FMD2)

For left switches, the GEAR permits to turn on or off the HD camera recording (not available for the 800TVL FPV cam).
The throttle hold switch is out of the box not configured as for the original Runner 250!!!! really what’a pity.
In the list of “Walkera don’t take any feedback into account”, by default the fail safe status of the throttle is still fixed to “Hold” !!
It means, at least in manual mode, your RA will fly away (see unboxing video for demo). You absolutly need to fix this error.
Luckely, you can retake control of the quad after a connexion lost. The trick to push a bit up and down the throttle stick then to re-arm the quadcopter.

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There is a trainer port DSC where you can plug the jack cable to your favorite simulator

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Here is a video the stability in GPS hold (MIX0 position)

I will test asap more the RTH mode (MIX2). For this mode, the RA first climbs to 15m of altitude

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I am a little bit worry about RTH efficiency since for some FPV flights, I observed some micro-periods where GPS indicated some crazy values whom can alterate the RTH process.

Other important questions I will try to answer asap:
1) Is RTH engaged when 2.4G control link is lost ?
2) Can we take-off and/or land in GPS mode ?

EDIT 10/11/15: Answers:

1) No RTH is not engaged with the radio connexion is lost, at least when throttle fail safe is set. Maybe the “hold” default setting activates RTH when the connexion is lost
2) Yes we can take off in GPS mode

I also performed some RTH testings. After climbing to 15m, the quadcopter takes a while to aim the ground target. All the descend process can take up to 1-2min.

CALIBRATION PROCEDURES

Now, after the acceleros and gyroscopes calibration, in order to have a precize and accurate GPS + compass localization, you must perform also a third compass calibration. The two first ones remain unchanged:

1) For accelerometers:

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2) For gyroscopes:

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3) and finally for the compass

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It’s important to correctly do this step and also to ensure the battery is well installed to fix the Center Of Gravity. If not, you may expect some “toilet bowl” effects

FIRST USAGE

CONCLUSIONS

UNBOXING

PROS

+ Transporation bag
+ Efficient 800 TVL FPV cam
+ Powerful 5.8G VTX (>= 300mW)
+ Very stable cruiser machine
+ Good radio range
+ Turns lights
+ Just 32g more heavier than the former edition
+ 2500Kv motors
+ Buzzer (but not extremely loud)

CONS

– Throttle Failsafe, D/R, throld hold not programmed on the radio
– Not 100% carbon elements
– Thin and fragile battery plate
– Front bumper blocking part of the visual scene
– No RTH when the transmission is lost (if FS is set to -100)
– Flip of the Death in accro mode with low throttle value
– 5.8G CL antenna too short, not efficient and partially blocked by the surrounding structure
– None genuine FT232RL serial interface for the FC
– Some outliers GPS/OSD values can occurs
– Don’t offer impressive vertical acceleration
– 8bits FC with multiwii 2.4

Instruction manual: http://www.walkera.com/productinformation/Runner%20250%20Advance/Runner%20250%20Quick%20Start%20Guide-EN.pdf

RCgroups thread: http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2518702#post32918168

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 at http://www.banggood.com/Walkera-Runner-250-Advance-Drone-5_8G-FPV-GPS-System-with-HD-Camera-Racing-Quadcopter-RTF-p-996000.html

Spare parts: https://www.banggood.com/buy/runner-250-advance.html

EDIT 10/16/15: The Advance version with a CC3D (32 bits FC) is now announced:

http://www.banggood.com/Walkera-Runner-250-Advance-CC3D-5_8G-100mw-DEVO-7-Drone-Racing-Quadcopter-RTF-p-1005379.html

Probably a better choice, since you can probably install CF. The GPS management will be improved

11 Comments

  • onclefly says:

    Super 😉

  • onclefly says:

    ‘est quoi la carte de vol (FC) ? une Naze32 ou une Walkera 8bits sous Multiwii ?

  • SeByDocKy says:

    Both are available … I strongly advise now to take the 32bits version. I think GPS stabilization/TRH will be more accurate

  • onclefly says:

    Ok Seb merci 🙂

  • dal says:

    does the compass need to be calibrated evertime it is used? why does it need to be calibrated? Does the gps set itself up on the first time its turned on, so if i go somewhere new, when powered up, the gps home position is now set to that new point?

  • Dip says:

    Are the new props compatible with the old model?

  • Indy says:

    Hi Seb,
    Personally I don’t recommend this product. Despite time and knowledge I couldn’t connect it to a Mac or a PC. Drivers issues…
    It’s supposed to be RTF…
    It’s a lousy flier, it hardly fly 5 minutes. The settings are slows, boring and dangerous, and as I mentioned, it’s impossible to change it since walkera has its own interface and it’s not working.
    GPS not working properly…
    Much more to say about walkera… Anyways…
    … and very expensive props… 🙂

    I bought an EMAX 280 and I built different other racer… and stuffs.

    … but luckily I didn’t bought this one because it’s garbage…

    Still a huge fan…

    • SeByDocKy says:

      Yes I agree on most of points (as I wrote also in my review)… It’s based on an old 8bits generation FC where GPS integration is not fantastic.
      You can change some settings via the classic Multiwii interface at least. The Emax 280 is a good choice, the W250 advance is more a cruzer than a racer definitively

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