May 27, 2018

Upgrade of the ZMR250 with HGLRC F3V4 PRO AIO

All in one! AIO! Sounds tempting doesn't it. Well, I fell for it!

I don't get much time to fly nowadays but I got out a few weeks back and took the ZMR250 for a spin. That didn't go so well. Partly because I always forget between flights, partly because the camera is faulty. In fact, all my "modern" cameras made for FPV have had intermittent problems. Something I have never seen in the DIY cameras everyone used a few years back.

Anyway, the ZMR250 build was a bit of a quick fix of a second hand quad I got and it had a few weak points;

  • Badly soldered PDB
  • PWM configured ESCs with classic servo connectors
  • No OSD
  • Crappy antenna wiring from the VTX
  • Intermittent video feed from camera
  • F3 flight controller with no voltage or capacity monitoring

My idea was to adress a few of the issues but maybe not all. I don't have much time to spend on building, waiting for china packages and don't want to spend money on a quad that I might only fly a few times this summer. The goal was to quickly and cheaply get it working and reliable.

I have a "HGLRC F3V2 PRO AIO OSD PDB VTX" ( I think I got it all in there ) board laying around for another build I forgot what it was. Combining this with a look inside the crappy (Foxeer, now you know) camera was going to be good enough. So, two evenings one hour each and I got it together and flying. I didn't take time to document it but I wanted to share my experience with the AIO board. So here goes.

First off, link to the actual product that I bought: http://bit.ly/2JfslAW. I bought it over 6 months ago and there are new boards out now so don't buy this one. In fact, even if it was newer I can't recommend it. Keep reading to get your expectations down to earth.

The flight controller board

First off, what does the flying. The board is based off a SP Racing F3. This is actually the same board that I took out of the ZMR250 so I won't be getting any better flight experience. This is an outdated board as of writing this and already when I got it the F4 were quite common. From flying this board, I must say it is performing as expected.

I had some issues with programming flight controllers with betaflight before but this particular board works really well. It always connects, always reconnects after reboot and connecting both USB and battery does not fry the voltage regulator (as on some boards).

Power distribution

The board is speced as having a built in PDB. It does not. It has a connector where you can put an XT60. Which you should NOT! It will then rip your FC appart when you crash and your battery comes loose. However, you would want to run you power through the connectors (with a wire) to get the voltage and current sensing going, which is built into the board.

The PDB part then consist a a single solder pad for each polarity where you solder your ESC leads. I did not even attempt that since it would only make a big mess. Instead I installed a real PDB below the FC which does its job, but nothing more.

So this card will not save you any space by having builtin PDB if that's what you're looking for.


OSD


The board has built-in OSD. This is an important feature and I expected it to save me some headache. However, it turns out it is just an OSD chip placed on the board and it does not integrate with the betaflight software. This is somewhat of a bummer. Now to program the OSD you must hook it up with an FTDI. This is not really a big deal, but the port is very hard to access once the board is mounted. One point I'll give to HGLRC is that they included a cable for connecting the OSD programmer. However, you must bring your own programming chip.

The default settings are working so-so. The OSD setup seems confused about battery voltage and cell count and will constantly warn for low voltage. This is fixed by reprogramming it, which is a bit of a hassle.


VTX

The VTX works as it should. I had no suprises with the operation nor the settings of the VTX. The single button interface takes a few seconds to figure out and the single digit display on the FC makes it easy to setup.
The main weak point of the VTX is the antenna connector. It works really poorly for this application. The connector does not snap in as it should (bad quality perhaps) and the still antenna cable will easily pull it from its location. I clamped it down with a plier while fixating the connector and the first part of the antenna cable with a nice dab of hot glue.
It is also possible to disable the VTX should you not want to use it.

Manual

I found no PDF-style downloadable manual. I had to mention this as it annoys the shit out of me. I hate having to google for this kind of information every time and get most of the information from product pages that I know will disappear one day.



TL;DR

To sum up this rant. Don't buy this board. It does not have PDB and the VTX connector sucks. OSD is a pain to setup. Also it is outdated. I'm going to buy a new AIO board soon and give you a new review from the AIO world!









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